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The Cost of Post-Conflict Resolution Work for Practitioners: A Workshop in Sarajevo

     In December 2018, this experiential, day-long workshop provided an opportunity for those engaged in processes of post-conflict resolution and recovery after communal and individual trauma to make deeper connection with others invested in similar work, to explore methods of self-care, and to understand the mechanisms behind the empathy demanded for such work. Addressing the effects of bearing witness to traumatic content, including being available to individuals who have endured trauma, met several goals: to build skills for responding to emotionally charged or distressing material, to learn about practices of self-care that will help manage the distinct roles played in conflict resolution processes, and to lay a foundation for establishing continued resources for those doing such work. Reaching these objectives was achieved by providing forums for discussion through dialogues circles, meaningful and meaning-creating exchange of perceptions and ideas around the issue of dealing with traumatic content; by small lectures describing the psychological effects of chronically witnessing trauma, and by participating in several group exercises which highlight how bodies mirror each other to share the effects of trauma. The aim was to provide a reflective, interactive session exploring how post-conflict work experiences intertwine with personal embodied responses. The workshop was not intended to be a proxy for therapy but rather a relaxed forum for learning. 

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