Sanctuary: Blog

Middle School Tackles Everybody's Trauma

Congrats to our own Ibet Hernandez for the wonderful success in this Middle School in Contra Costa County, CA. Ibet was their consultant for a number of years. Way to go Ibet. This is on the Acestoohigh website, a national publication.

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Women share their stories of hope and encouragement during Collier Youth Services breakfast


Collier Youth Services, one of our Sanctuary Certified Sites, recently held a breakfast for women to share stories of hope and encouragement. What a wonderful idea! Click below to read the full article:

My Concept of Power

Submitted by: Nicole Samuela, Mercy Family Services, Australia


To me the whole concept of Power is an illusion created by the ego. Nobody has any more power over you other than that which you are willing to give them. 
Some would argue in the work place there are people who exercise authority over other employee's making them feel powerless or dictated too. If this happens please know that is how you have chosen to interpret the situation. Sure in the work place you have positions of employment that are responsible for managing other employee's however that does not put them in a more powerful position they just have a different role or different responsibilities in the work place than those they manage. It is merely your perception and definition of their position that makes you believe they are superior to you.

Bad things happen to good people all the time but that does not need to mean that they have to be victims. That is a choice made by the individual on how they choose to react to the situation. As a human being we have the ability to think for ourselves we have the ability to choose how we are going to interpret each situation as it appears. It does not have to be a problem but a situation that requires a solution. If we focus our energy on the facts of the situation instead of the emotion this perceived problem has created we put ourselves in a great position to overcome any obstacle that crosses our path in this journey of life by using the facts to find a solution. If you find yourself feeling powerless and unable to see a solution simply surrender yourself to it paying close attention to other opportunities this so called trial could be leading you too.

In the situation of prisoners in jail a colleague raised the point that in these circumstances all power is stripped from prisoners leaving them feeling very powerless. I argue that there have been several cases of individuals being incarcerated Nelson Mandela being one example, Mr. Mandela maintained a strong sense of self choosing to hold true to his beliefs despite being a prisoner for over 20 years he refused to allow anyone to have power over his mind.

How do we contribute to creating a society that feels empowered? May I suggest that we understand the facts. Fact is we have no power over anyone else other than ourselves. So the best place to start is by exercising self-mastery according to your personal belief system while at the same time respecting the beliefs of others (especially if they believe differently than you). By doing this you become a potential example or leader that others may choose to follow, potentially introducing them to a new concept that they did not know existed until you showed it to them by your example. Actions do speak louder than words and it's not what we say to people that makes them listen to us it's how we make them feel while we speak that determines if they are going to take on board what it is you have to say. The ability to control one's self is in my opinion the key to freedom that nobody can take away from you and that is a very powerful position to be in.

A Test on the Seven Commitments

Submitted by: Rebekah Magin, Faculty, Sanctuary Institute


The other day my husband was scheduled to attend a meeting. His boss forgot to tell him the location was changed so at the last minute he had to drive across town, find parking, and run through the state capital buildings to arrive two minutes late to the meeting (which hadn’t even started yet). After the meeting, my husband, his boss and a colleague were riding the elevator together discussing the meeting and next steps. Without saying anything, the boss reaches over to my husband, removes his sunglasses, which were hanging out of his suit pocket, opens my husband’s suit jacket and places the sunglasses in the inside pocket and pats him on the chest while giving him a disapproving nod. My husband was so taken aback he said nothing.

Later, my husband was relaying the situation to me and having difficulty finding the words to describe what had happened. Finally he says, “It was violent”. I couldn’t have agreed more. My husband felt undermined, embarrassed, angry, violated, and condescended to. What I learned later was that my husband’s boss was found to be wrong about something that my husband had advised him on and so seemingly needed a way to put things right again.

Often people scoff at the Sanctuary 7 Commitments and think of them as fluffy and touchy-feely with no place in a professional environment. Sometimes it is not until you experience a breach in this value system that you realize the necessity of a core set of professional values. The most successful business people in the world will tell you that it is not their academic prowess or formal education that has the biggest impact on their success. It is their commitment to creating safety around them and their commitment to emotional intelligence.

Now, being married to a social worker and Sanctuary Faculty member, my husband is faced with the question, “What do I do about it?” I have encouraged him to practice open communication and discuss the incident during his next supervision meeting expressing his perspective in the same words he did when relaying the incident to me. Coming from the corporate business world which does not adhere to the Sanctuary Model, he is a little apprehensive about how this may be received, but you must be the change you wish to see in the world.

What would you do?

Sanctuary Team Meetings

Submitted by: Sally Scott, Manager, Ruah Community Services, Women's Support Services


I attended a Five-Day training with the Sanctuary Institute in Perth, Australia as our organization Ruah Community Services is incorporating this trauma informed practice model into the every day running of the organization.

During this time one of the many things I got to participate in was a discussion about Sanctuary Team Meetings and what these will be like. From our group discussion and understanding of Sanctuary, after five days we were able to present the following:

A team involves everybody and hence these meeting must include everyone, nobody is to be left out or left behind. The meeting itself will run in a non-violent manner where everyone uses their Emotional Intelligence. This then provides for social learning opportunities that are democratic and allow open communication. The whole team is given an opportunity to be socially responsible in a space that accepts growth and change for all.

The team meeting gives time to the people who are serving the people.

Within the team meetings a number of things can happen;
• Everyone is considered equal and thus anyone can take the lead in the meeting as they are true team meetings and not led by any one person.
• We reflect on how we are being in the workplace and not focus on what we are doing in the workplace
• People share their feelings
• People share experiences and the impact of these on themselves and/or the team
• The meetings bring everybody together and to a stop at the same time, therefore everything gets to slow down
• A space is honored for everyone to come together without the pressure of a so called 'business' meeting.
• As a group we develop trust as we express our vulnerabilities to each other, share values, consider ethical and moralistic situations
• Agenda's are kept short so that we can have real discussions with one another
• The meeting is not to be too serious and we can have fun and be playful with each other. (Celebrity heads and musical chairs as well as team building exercises are favorites within our team.)

The Team Meeting is a tool within the Sanctuary Model to be used by teams. However this tool is a small part of what Sanctuary is.

Sanctuary is about us all being more accountable for ourselves and responsible for our behavior while at work.

The Team Meeting facilitates a space for teams to gather and have;
• Time - to be together
• Patience - with one another as we are forever learning and developing together
• Understanding - for where each person is within the team and what may be happening for them at any given time

It is important that within these meetings, as well as within the office environment that ALL OF THE TEAM is appreciated, valued, accepted and loved.