The Witness to Witness (W2W) Program serves those who are in high stress jobs working with vulnerable clients who are themselves experiencing high levels of stress. Originally designed to assist those working with asylum seekers, detainees, migrants, climate refugees and immigrants at the border, we have expanded to serve a range of providers in many parts of the country who work with populations made vulnerable by specific policies.  Those we serve may be suffering from stress, empathic stress, moral distress, moral injury and/or demoralization.

 The Witness to Witness (W2W) Program is sponsored by Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN) and affiliated with and endorsed by the American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA).

 During this time of crisis, we are suspending our one to one sessions in favor of offering peer support groups, interactive webinars and organizational consultation so that our services can be stretched to meet demand.

If you want to stay informed about the W2W Program,

Access Kaethe Weingarten's top five recommended resources to relieve stress here:

Here are “Five Easy Pieces” about how to de-stress I have selected out of the hundreds of resources I have that made sense to me to share today. Here’s what I like about each one:

1. Evidence-Based Tools to Support your Health and Wellbeing

Some people think self-care is an overblown idea.  This short piece lays out concrete suggestions that are backed up by research for those of us who want the “hard science” as a reason to take better care of ourselves during stressful times.

2. Peak Anxiety? Here Are 10 Ways to Calm Down

These are simple, straightforward activities that don’t take much time or effort.  I did five-finger breathing with two of my grandchildren the other day and they liked doing it…and it helped.  (The six-year-old was about to have a loose tooth pulled!)

3. Ideas from the Nap Ministry

For many of us, sleep is elusive these days.  Resting is an alternative.  Here are some suggestions from Tricia Hersey, founder of the Nap Ministry, that I have slightly modified.

Close your eyes for 10 minutes

Take a long shower in silence

Meditate for 20 minutes

Stare out of window and daydream

Sip decaf tea before going to bed

Slow dance with yourself to soothing music

Pray

Do a yoga pose

Time yourself for a 20 minute nap

Take a hot bath

Take a media break

Batch your responses to texts and emails

Take a long walk in nature

Listen to a long piece of music while doing nothing else

Play a musical instrument

Work on a coloring book

Knit or crochet

Bake 

Do slow breathing in to a count of 4, hold for 2 and out for a count of 5

4. Sky-Like Mind

There are so many guided meditation scripts out in the world these days.  This one appeals to me for its simplicity and tenderness.

5. Self-Care in an Uncertain World

I have always liked Toni Bernhard’s work.  This short piece rings emotionally true to me and it’s practical.

Mission

To build individual and organizational resilience for those working with vulnerable populations.

Vision

Through our service and consultation programs, the Witness to Witness Program will be a standard of care to promote individual and organizational resilience for people working with vulnerable populations allowing them to flourish despite the demands of the work.

The Witness to Witness Program has a range of resources and archived webinars in both English and Spanish.  These can all be accessed at the main W2W pages at Migrant Clinicians Network.

What Volunteers and Partners Are Saying about W2W

Comments from W2W partners -

"The Witness to Witness program has offered me incredible individual, group, and organizational support. From individual monthly hour long phone conversations with an experienced, licensed psychologist to biweekly Zoom calls with fellow immigration law practitioners across the country, and webinars specifically targeted to help improve organizational resiliency and understanding empathic stress, the W2W program has become an invaluable resource for me as I continue to practice non-profit immigration law. I am so grateful to W2W for sharing their expertise and knowledge with those of us providing direct legal services to low-income immigrants and refugees across the country. W2W truly cares for the caregivers, and I could not be more thankful."

"I feel so grateful for this model, this way of working, and to you for implementing it…. I believe things would be different if everyone working here was receiving this kind of partnership."

"Five stars, two thumbs-up."

Comments from W2W volunteers -

"It has been a great experience to volunteer with W2W. … They voice deep gratitude for the program, naming both broad and smaller ways in which their work and personal lives feel more manageable as a result of the W2W support."

"My experience has been extraordinarily positive. Connecting with these dedicated, wonderful people has been a gift and their ability and motivation to integrate and use the support in their own creative ways has taught me things to offer others not to mention to remember for myself. Their resilience is awesome and I am grateful that I can be part of nurturing that."

"This has been a deeply moving experience for me - these partnerships have offered me access to a much needed sense of agency in the face of injustice I have been alert to, but more typically felt powerless in the face of. The program has given me an opportunity to be meaningfully helpful in a way that supports my preferred self."

About Kaethe

Kaethe (pronounced Kay-tah) Weingarten, PhD, directs the Witness to Witness Program, a project of Migrant Clinicians Network, affiliated with and endorsed by the American Family Therapy Academy. Dr. Weingarten was an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology in the Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry from 1981-2017 and a faculty member of the Family Institute of Cambridge where she founded and directed the Program in Families, Trauma and Resilience. She has published six books and over 100 articles and essays. Her book Common Shock: Witnessing Violence Every Day – How we are harmed, how we can heal won the 2004 Nautilus Award for Social Change. In 2002, she was awarded the highest honor of the American Family Therapy Academy, the award for Distinguished Contribution to Family Theory and Practice. She and her husband now live in Berkeley, where they moved in 2013 after 48 years in Boston, to be near their children and five grandchildren.

About Celia

Celia Jaes Falicov, PhD, Coordinator of Spanish Language Programs for the Witness to Witness Program, is clinical professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California-San Diego where she directs mental health services for immigrant populations in university sponsored free community clinics. She has presented widely on her work on immigration, cultural diversity and social justice. She is a Past President of the American Family Therapy Academy.  She has received awards from the American Psychological Association, the National Latino Psychological Association, National Latino Social Work Association and the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.  She was the recipient of AFTA' s Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Theory and Practice Award in 1997. Her publications include three edited books: Family Transitions (Guilford); Cultural Perspectives in Family Therapy (Aspen) and Multiculturalism and Diversity in Clinical Supervision. She is the author of Latino Families in Therapy (Guilford Press).