The uniqueness of the Sarah Bird Foundation is that it offers:
- A place for deep transformational healing combining the indigenous practice of talking circles with the tools and techniques of Energy Psychology as well as support around what comes out of such talking circles.
- Authentic partnerships: adding value to what is already being done by introducing the element of trauma healing into existing humanitarian efforts.
- Not just talking therapy which can re-traumatise. We can work with groups of people rather than one person at a time (although this does not exclude work with individuals as appropriate).
- Support to volunteers and agency workers on the ground, who likely have taken on trauma themselves.
- Low overheads. The Sarah Bird Foundation has been created by an individual with a few key committed associates. The work done by us is not a bureaucratic undertaking, it is mainly field work and therefore incurs minimal administrative costs.
- The principle of sustainability. It trains trainers on the ground so work can carry on in the host setting, deepening the healing and overall impact.
Tools and Techniques
We are skilled in several practices that when used individually or in conjunction with each other bring about deep and lasting change for the participants.
Here are brief descriptions of some of the tools we use.
Energy Psychology (EP) is a family of evidence supported modalities that balance, restore and improve human functioning by combining physical interventions (using the acupuncture system, the chakras and other ancient systems of healing) with modern cognitive interventions such as imagery-based exposure therapy.
These methods are being used around the world by thousands of mental health and allied health professionals as well as lay people to achieve rapid, dramatic and lasting therapeutic shifts in feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours. While some of these techniques are simple enough that children can be taught to use them independently, they have proven so powerful that they are being employed by several organizations worldwide to provide first response to disasters and other traumatic situations.
Positive clinical and experimental outcomes have shown EP methods to help alleviate multitude of issues including trauma and PTSD, anxiety and phobias.
“All that has been integrated into NVC has been known for centuries about consciousness, language, communication skills, and use of power that enable us to maintain a perspective of empathy for ourselves and others, even under trying conditions.”
– Marshall B. Rosenberg, Phd. Founder NVC
Nonviolent Communication contains nothing new. It is based on historical principles of nonviolence– the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart. NVC reminds us what we already instinctively know about how good it feels to authentically connect to another human being.
With NVC we learn to hear our own deeper needs and those of others. Through its emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others—NVC helps us discover the depth of our own compassion. This language reveals the awareness that all human beings are only trying to honour universal values and needs, every minute, every day.
NVC can be seen as both a spiritual practice that helps us see our common humanity, using our power in a way that honours everyone’s needs, and a concrete set of skills which help us create life-serving families and communities.
The form is simple, yet powerfully transformative.
Through the practice of NVC, we can learn to clarify what we are observing, what emotions we are feeling, what values we want to live by, and what we want to ask of ourselves and others. We will no longer need to use the language of blame, judgment or domination. We can experience the deep pleasure of contributing to each others’ well being.
NVC creates a path for healing and reconciliation in its many applications, ranging from intimate relationships, work settings, health care, social services, police, prison staff and inmates, to governments, schools and social change organizations.
– Centre for Nonviolent Communication
We use the practice of talking or restorative circles that allows the speaker the freedom and power to say what is in his heart without fear of reprisal or humiliation.
The talking circle is based on indigenous knowledge.
Indigenous knowledge, also referred to as traditional or local knowledge, is embedded in the community and is unique to a given culture, location or society. The term refers to the large body of knowledge and skills (Indigenous Knowledge systems) that has been developed outside the formal educational system, and that enables communities to survive.Over many centuries, human beings have been producing knowledge and strategies enabling them to survive in a balanced relation with their natural and social environment.
Restorative Circles, a specific restorative practice whose development began with the work of Dominic Barter in Rio de Janeiro in the mid 1990s and continues with a growing community both in Brazil and internationally.
A Restorative Circle is a community process for supporting those in conflict. It brings together the three parties to a conflict – those who have acted, those directly impacted and the wider community – within an intentional systemic context, to dialogue as equals. Participants invite each other and attend voluntarily. The dialogue process used is shared openly with all participants, and guided by a community member. The process ends when actions have been found that bring mutual benefit.
“Sarah has a unique talent for holding a group, gently allowing everyone the freedom to do and say what they need. At the same time you get the feeling that there is a gentle hand on the tiller and the group will not be allowed to stray off course or derail.”
– Catherine O’Donnell, Galway
The vision of the Sarah Bird Foundation is to empower individuals and communities to transform the stress, trauma and suffering resulting from conflict and natural disaster, into lives of resilience and fulfilment accompanied by dignity and respect. We partner with organisations that share or connect with a similar vision and are a solidarity partner of Comhlamh and have affirmed and support the Charter for Compassion.
- To facilitate the process of transformation by engaging with individuals and communities affected by conflict and natural disaster.
- To work with and educate those affected by providing proven techniques adapted for particular situations and cultural sensitivities that deliver long-term relief from stress and trauma. And which open the inner doorway so bringing the person to a place of self-empowerment and authentic well being.
- To create opportunities for individuals, organisations and communities to connect with and learn from each other.
- To foster community building and collaboration.
- To support individuals and organisations working with those affected by stress, trauma, conflict and natural disaster by teaching them the skills to alleviate the symptoms of compassion fatigue.
- To provide facilitator training programmes to key individuals, with the object to impart skills required to ensure the long-term impact and sustainability of their efforts in their communities, of the SBF and its recipients world-wide.
A central tenet of the Sarah Bird Foundation is to translate its stated Vision and Mission into action, through compassionate, open-hearted inclusiveness, encouragement of non-judgmental communication and the honouring of cultural diversity.