Karina Healy, community development co-ordinator with the Lantern Project at Nano Nagle Place in Cork, recently took part in our three-day ABLE brief intervention training. She describes her role as ensuring ‘love and welcome’ to those coming to the Lantern, where vulnerable people are given space to reflect on what support they need to enhance their well-being. Whether through education programmes, volunteering opportunities or community events, the Lantern Project fosters connections to support individuals.
What are the challenges of your role?
My role is about meeting individuals and creating a space for them to be held and understood and to think about what their needs are. Everyone who comes through the door has an opportunity to progress in some way, whether it’s building their confidence and self-esteem or engaging with others or learning new skills. Often, these are short interventions or moments. At other times, people need more time and support. One of the biggest challenges for me was being able to boundary my time in a respectful way while learning to leave the door open for future conversations.
What prompted you to do the training?
I had read about Ag Eisteacht’s work and was very touched by Maeve’s respectful approach and her obvious interest and understanding of the importance of relationships. I then attended Ag Eisteacht’s screening of ‘Resilience: The Biology of Stress & the Science of Hope’ about Adverse Childhood Experiences at Nano Nagle Place and was blown away by the honesty and authenticity of the speakers, particularly Dr Nicola O’ Sullivan.
She shared her personal story of how significant adults had impacted positively on her life, and it struck me that there’s often not a lot of light in the individuals’ lives whom I meet and what an honour it is to be able to make a difference to someone.
I wanted to develop my relational capacity so that I could really be there for people by being present and attuned. I have always held the capacity to have relationships within the working environment as important because building trust is everything in my role.
Have you used the skills/framework since doing the course? If so, how?
Learning how to manage my time and boundaries has been very useful. I now set aside time in a more mindful and measured way and find that I am getting better at ending conversations. In my role, love and respect can’t be contained in a box but now I have the confidence and skills to end an intervention while leaving the door open for future conversations.
The listening skills aspect of the ABLE training has also been invaluable. I am more mindful of listening reflectively, not interrupting and ensuring that individuals feel empowered to find solutions for themselves.
What was the best thing about the training?
I loved the diversity and honesty of the group. What impacted me most was hearing and learning from the other participants’ and trainers’ shared experiences and life stories. The level of discomfort I felt listening to individuals and seeing the skills modelling exercises resonated with me on my own journey and on so many levels. I found myself imagining ‘what would this be like for me?’ It’s only natural that we all really tune into something that resonates with us, but the training helped to put the focus back on the other person and ask ‘how is it for them’ instead.
True connection comes from trusting and earning trust, and I found that the ABLE model covered all elements of the journey to better relationships in a very user-friendly and mindful way.
Last but not least, the aspect of self-care within the training was very welcome.
What would your advice be to someone thinking about doing the training?
Do it. Take the time for this reflective space – a place of neutrality away from your routine work – to reflect on your work and how you are doing.
If you could sum up your experience of the course, what would you say?
Doing the course reminded me about the value of relationships and the impact they can have on individuals. This needs to be held with reverence. I am not a nurse or a qualified counsellor but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that being empathic, listening with respect and being strong yet vulnerable are important in every encounter or intervention. Dissipate whatever perceived power you feel that you may have and be fully there for the person. This is what the ABLE model gives you.
The very enlightening and practical content and the methods used placed a measure of value and respect for both ourselves and for the people using our services. ABLE is empowering training with attainable skills that are readily used.
Ag Eisteact’s next 3 Day ABLE Training course will take place in Cork on May 14th, 28th & 29th. Booking can be found here.