Healing Trauma through the Body

In the last week I’ve been following, when I can, the online Embodied Trauma conference. This was an essential, ground-breaking initiative that challenges the purely psychotherapeutic model for treating trauma, by delving into the body’s capacity to heal through awareness and experiencing that surpasses mere cognitive or verbal cues and explanations.  It this respect it … Read more

Stress and Burnout: Western concepts?

In a recent article for Open Democracy, I wrote that although increased awareness of mental health problems in the aid sector is encouraging, we have to be cautious that such problems aren’t confined solely to the white aid worker’s experience. I would like to build on that article by offering a few more examples from … Read more

Lessons and Reflections on Healing Solidarity

The perils of projectisation, how we embody our activism and push for a right to rest, what it means to truly listen and meet the other person where they are, challenging masculine behaviour and discourse in aid; these were just some of the many conversations taking place at the Healing Solidarity conference last week. This … Read more

Healing Solidarity and what’s to come on Life in Crisis

Today I am providing a quick update on my work on stress in the aid sector, and news of an exciting, inspiring and innovative conference coming up next week, which everyone can join and participate in! These last few weeks I’ve reached that point that many doctoral researchers will be familiar with; where the Phd … Read more

Reflections on the Idealist’s Survival Kit

I have just finished reading The Idealist’s Survival Kit by Alessandra Pigni, a collection of ideas, reflections and tools for understanding and responding to burnout. The book, which is divided into 75 bite-sized chunks containing accounts from aid workers and activists, poetry and passages or quotes from the likes of Brene Brown, Thich Nhat Hanh, … Read more

What do Stress and Wellbeing mean to Aid Workers?

In the last few weeks I’ve been engaging in discussions that have put the question of how aid workers interpret stress and wellbeing at centre stage. In August I ran a stress management workshop with an Italian NGO in Kenya which was attended by Kenyan, Somali and European staff. Aside from that, I’ve been talking to … Read more

Who is the Aid Worker?

This is a question that has sprung up once again in aid/development debates, and one recent blog post arguing for ‘new words’ captures the issue very well. I have also been considering this question as I conduct research in Kenya. I have used the term aid worker in my research as I wanted to find … Read more

Finding Purpose and Managing Expectations in Aid Work

There’s been a fair amount of debate recently regarding people from the western world who travel to the developing world (particularly Africa) with high ideals of saving lives and leave feeling disappointed or worse, depressed. First there was the ‘Linton Lies’ debacle where a white British woman’s published book describing her experiences as a volunteer in … Read more

Morals and Motivations in Aid Work

What motivates aid workers? And do motivations have any bearing on how aid workers experience stress? These are two among many questions I continue to grapple with whilst undertaking field research in Kenya. Whilst family, friends and even strangers we meet at a party may assume that we are selfless heroes, ask aid workers about … Read more