SELF Strategy in Sanctuary

Joseph Benamati (bio) describes the SELF problem-solving strategy in Sanctuary.

In the work that we do, we implement Sanctuary in those facilities. So the maximum, medium, and the limited secures, and then all of the aftercare offices where kids will then come out of. We'll go to the aftercare offices, and we'll work with them.

And basically what we do is we say, "Look we're there to supplement what you do. We're not there to replace what you do." So many of them, for instance, use one of the trauma interventions that I mentioned. In New York they do DBT.

We work with DBT folks, and we train everybody in the facility. So everyone from the facility director, to the maintenance person, to the cook, to the people who pick up the garbage, to clinicians and teachers. And so everybody's on the same page with the shared language.

One of our shared language components is SELF — S-E-L-F — and it stands for safety, emotional management, loss, and future. That's really our lens through which we see everything. So for instance, if we have a problem with understanding what's going on with a kid, what's happened to the kid, we would SELF that issue. We would look at, "What are the safety concerns? What are the safety issues? What are the safety compromises this child has had to make? And how do we keep them safe?"

We look at emotional management, "What happened? Why are they not managing their emotions? What's happened in terms of disregulation, and how do we get them back?"

Losses. Many of these kids, especially in juvenile justice, don't talk about loss. That's not something that we feel comfortable with with them, and they're not comfortable in sharing. But those kids have losses just like everyone else, and until and unless we get to those, the kinds of things they need to do to reintegrate and to get back and to be productive are not going to be done.

So we do a lot of work with them around losses. Because when kids go into any kind of care, they lose their home, their bedroom, their toys, their friends, their school, their church — I could go on and on. And so, those are — and they lose their youth. They lose their optimism. They lose their hope. So loss is a big issue for us.

And then future. We want to help them plan a better future — if it's today, if it's this afternoon, if it's next week or next month. So we do a lot of that.

So SELF — for instance, we will SELF problems that have to do with kids and their families. We SELF problems that might be budgetary for the agency. We SELF problems where there might be an issue with a staff member who's either over-enmeshed or doing something that they shouldn't be doing. We use SELF as a lens for lots of problem solving.

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Excerpted from an interview at CBITS Summit 2012 in Santa Monica, CA.


More About "Self-Care"


More From Joseph Benamati (bio)

  • Sanctuary Self-Care Plan Sample

  • Sanctuary: A Trauma-Informed Organizational Change Model

  • Self-Care Plans for All Staff Members

  • Trauma Is a Reason, Not an Excuse