Seeing Social Work in the Philippines through a Psychosocial Lens: MAGIS at NASWEI book launch

We commemorated Human Rights Day this year with the National Association for Social Work Education, Inc. (Philippines), at their book launch of The Human Costs of the Philippine War on Drugs: a collection of case studies that poignantly capture the landscape in which social workers all over the country currently focus on.

We were in the company of professionals who have dedicated their careers and lives to the incredible and unique calling of Social Work. This professional field is all too familiar with contexts with profound needs for human dignity: conflict zones, disaster areas, national borders, and communities of poverty. To have a heart in these margins and knots in society is both a tall order and a natural inclination of the human spirit. As keynote speaker Evelyn Balais-Serrano said, “we have common humanity.”

As the field of Social Work goes through a paradigm shift from dealing with welfare, to involving themselves with the all-encompassing and currently controversial landscape of human rights, we are also significantly moved by the need for further deepening of resilience and strength in body, mind, and spirit.

We sincerely thank everyone we met yesterday and for the stories that were shared. We look forward to sharing in the journey of, and helping how these brave helping professionals help themselves and help each other.


Photos:
1: Keynote Speaker Evelyn Balais-Serrano
2: NASWEI VP – NCR and Executive Director, Dr. Elsa H. Ruiz; with MAGIS Managing Director Kathy V. Ponce
3: NASWEI President, Dr Melba L. Manapol; and VP – Visayas, Ms. Rose Sequitin with MAGIS representatives Kathy (Managing Director), Miah Tanchoco (Assistant Director for Program Management), Adi Santos (Communications Officer)

A Morning with Asian Hospital and Medical Center: Fit for Good

 

AHMC-FitforGood

Join us Saturday, November 18 as we share the therapeutic experience of dance and movement through a short talk and workshop with Dance Therapist Joey Atayde. Fit for Good is an initiative of the Asian Brain Institute for raising awareness about living well over the age of 50. The morning will cover a range of topics including physical and mental health and fitness, and an introduction to the Institute’s brain wellness program in context of dementia.


About the Speaker

Joey is a Registered Dance/movement Therapist with the American Dance Therapy Association.  She finished her graduate studies in Dance/Movement Therapy at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.  She has worked with children and adults with mental illness, using movement as a form of psychotherapy and using this to integrate the body, the mind and the spirit.

Thriving Creatively: the promise of art for healing

Last month, we launched our first run of THRiVE – a psychosocial training program in expressive arts-based approaches to healing and learning in the classroom.  This program is an opportunity for us to create and hold the space for educators to rediscover and be themselves through the ageless method of and tools for expression: art and creativity.

Training educators as people

We started the 4-day intensive standing in a circle, feet hip-width apart, arms stretched out and palms open on either side of us. This moment taught me the power of a standing being. I looked around at our circle. We had come together as 33 educators, coordinators, managers, community builders; but in that moment we were 33 people who were right where they needed to be, 33 stories to be told. The gravity of this collective presence was enough to build us up, a mountain beneath our feet.

To give these individuals space in this way was very important for lead facilitator and MAGIS Director Gina Alfonso. “Each of us has the right to be here. Each of us has a place in this circle and a reason for being here now.” she said.  With so many different journeys that led to the one moment, it was crucial to establish a sense of safety and belonging at the very beginning.   At THRiVE, educators learn to improve the way they work by improving their sense of self, first.

Trauma-informed practice

MAGIS developed THRiVE – Trauma-informed Healing and Resilience-building in Vulnerable Environments – with trauma in mind. Considering it in the broadest sense of the word, the activities over the 4-day intensive addressed both shared community and personal trauma, toxic stress, and the need for resilience. Through arts-based activities, the psychology of play, and individual and communal mindfulness practice, the group learned how to improve their professional work not only by being informed by the science behind the practice of the arts for psychosocial interventions in the classroom, but also by the experience of taking care of themselves first – the same way they take such thoughtful care of the students and colleagues they work with.

One participant described the experience as a realization of the blessings despite issues and everyday challenges. Through activities designed with self-awareness and mindfulness, there was also an element of healing. “I am able to say that I am healed and free from the heavy feelings I was carrying because of my own perception, thinking, and doing,” she said.

Mind the brain

The storytelling, self-awareness, and self-care practice doesn’t end with arts-based activities. From our year-old partnership with Mindworks self-awareness for us as their technology provides a detailed portrait of our brains: brain maps.  Mindworks uses EEG technology to depict brainwave activity, which can accurately show the current state of brain, and which neurotherapists analyze to inform customized programs for improving brain function and mental agility. The brain maps alone, along with interviews about them, provide a wealth of insight into the impact of personal history on how we think, our natural inclinations, and areas we can improve. This greatly helped participants of THRiVE to understand their strengths, their needs, and how they can better work together in their chosen professions.  Most importantly, knowing their needs helped them create their own plans for a self-care practice.

Creative souls

Bambi, one of the co-facilitators of THRiVE and Assistant Director for Community Relations, said the experience for her brought her to deeper appreciation of the arts as a vehicle of self-discovery and healing. Kathy, our Managing Director and a participant of the program, described it as life-changing.  Working behind the scenes, I was moved by the creative fluidity in the program’s facilitation: it was alive, responding to emergent needs of the participants.

Whichever side of experience, we all witnessed people heal, learn, and thrive through the arts. Visual art was a self-made, embodied mirror that someone may have been introduced to for the first time. “I didn’t even know I could do this,” one participant said in surprise. The a-ha moments were resounding by the end of the program. Movement and music gave life new rhythm, whether shared or individual.  Even the thoughtful selection of symbols was a creative experience in itself, giving new meaning to everyday objects around us.

We are deeply grateful for the vibrant participation of the inspiring educators of both The Learning Child School and Cartwheel Foundation, Inc.‘s partner Indigenous communities. We have learned as much, if not more, from each of you.

We also thank our friends at Cartwheel who co-facilitated this program with us.


Were you part of this program? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

To learn more about THRiVE, or to express interest in organizing it for a group, contact us.

Remembering Bounce

This day last month, we gathered for BOUNCE: Living the Resilient Life. It was a one-day workshop that brought together professionals of varied backgrounds to learn a little bit more about resilience, living fully, and how the expressive arts can encourage this.

Dr. Robert Wicks, travelling to Manila for the first time to be our guest, opened the morning. The perfect balance of strong and humorous, he spoke of resilience and the importance of self-care.

“… We are not in the success business, we are in faithfulness business. We need to look personally and professionally at how we can be faithful to the calling that we have to be present to others.”

The afternoon was led by Nurse Thelma Singson Barrera, leading us into further examination of the reality of stress in our everyday life and work.

Breakout workshops followed. Conducted by Cartwheel Foundation Inc., and IsraAID: The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, these workshops gave participants immersive experience in how the expressive arts is applied in psychosocial programs in the country. The room was punctuated with sounds of happy chants, reflective silence, laughter, singing, and proclamations of affirmation. The activities from both organizations focused on group interaction, which is particularly important in trust- and peace-building in a community after a traumatic event. This is characteristic of the work that both organizations do: IsraAID works with the community in post-Haiyan Ormoc, and Cartwheel works with indigenous schools in post-disaster and post-conflict areas in the Philippines.

For participants, the day was a welcome space to rest, reflect, and learn something new. Thank you to everyone we met that day, for the opportunity to speak with you and serve you. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
This event could not have happened without the incredibly generous support of our sponsors: the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office; Medichem Pharmaceuticals, Inc. the CNS division of UNILAB; Jackbilt Industries; ABJ Foundation; and Pru Life UK. We are also grateful for the following sponsors who we are honoured to have supported at Bounce as well: The Philippine Neurofeedback Center (Mindworks); National Bookstore; and Derm Factor Essentials.

A limited edition of Riding the Dragon, printed by Jesuit Communications Philippines, is available to purchase with MAGIS for P250.00. Get in touch to reserve a copy today.

If you attended BOUNCE, we would love to hear about your experience. Our feedback form can be accessed here:http://goo.gl/forms/ytJbrn8S4A

MAGIS is now online!

blog-magisonline

MAGIS is now online!

Our creative spaces have gone digital! Get to know about our advocacy, services, and the people that make up our team.

We are so pleased to be able to connect with you through our website. So feel free to drop us a line, and stay tuned for more updates!