Those who experience a traumatic life event or go through a crisis often aren't the only ones who feel the effects.

Now, a Grand Junction class is geared toward helping first responders, social workers and medical professionals who often feel the impact of helping others who are in crisis.

The Resilience program is back for its second year in the Grand Valley, attempting to help staff at various agencies in the county reduce their risk of burnout and increase their personal well-being as they assist people through traumatic situations.

The classes for the program are run by facilitators from the Counseling and Education Center and the Western Slope Center for Children.

It is supported by the Western Colorado Community Foundation. Other partners include Mesa County Public Health, Hilltop, St. Mary's Medical Center and Roice-Hurst Humane Society.

The program launched last year and met once per month for 10 months. This year, the program is more condensed, meeting eight times between Aug. 28 and Nov. 20.

The shorter time between classes is a result of feedback from the first sessions, according to the counseling center's Executive Director Chris Mueller.

"We tried to pay attention to feedback and make it a good experience for everyone," he said.

Mueller said the response was positive overall among those working with trauma situations.

"The response was extremely supportive on how it made them rethink how they were dealing with things in their lives," Mueller said. "In the last class, there was the realization that there is vicarious trauma from different positions and different agencies."

Amy Newberry, care department director at the Commons of Hilltop, participated in the first session and is now on the steering committee for the Resilience program.

She said she picked up tips to bring back to her staff, but also learned a lot about how she deals with trauma.

"This really helped me with seeing signs and symptoms not only in my staff, but in myself," she said.

The Commons mostly deals with seniors and often has a young staff. Newberry said getting close to a client, only to have them die shortly after is common.

"Over time, for people that young, it can be overwhelming," she said.

Newberry learned that people having a tough time can often work harder and for more hours, which can speed up burnout.

For her, she noticed that her breathing became shorter when she was experiencing stress. She's been able to recognize the sign and work to calm down since the class.

Newberry noted that the Commons offers training for trauma and many professionals are also trained in school, but the class offers a good follow-up to previous lessons.

She said someone else from Commons will be taking the Resilience course this time.

Sydney Elks is returning to facilitate the classes. She is one of three instructors for the program.

Elks said it's important for people to realize that trauma takes it toll on everyone.

"Compassion fatigue is a physiological phenomena, not a sign of weakness," she said. "We are wired to respond to trauma."

She added that people also need to realize that recovering from trauma takes time, as does implementing practices to maintain a strong well-being.

The length of the classes can help drive home those practices.

"If we can immerse people in these things, they are more likely to take root," she said.


Classes cost $200 for the eight sessions, Mueller said. Enrollment is limited to 30 participants.

For information, visit or contact Nancy Crowell at or call 970-985-8347.

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