Appreciation for a Unique Learning Experience
I have been working with Evoke Therapy Programs at Entrada now for about 6 months and I am increasingly grateful for the company, the people who work there, and the opportunities that are provided for staff and clients to learn and grow. I am especially thankful that as we go about this journey that we are allowed, and even encouraged, to live outside the box.
Recently in the field the clients and I benefited from this company mindset when we were given the chance to take a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) class. Two instructors came and met us in the middle of the desert and set up the strangest classroom I have ever seen. Class was taught under a large brown tarp with camp chairs and electrical cords running up to a car to power the laptop running the slideshow. The group learned about signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite, how to build splints out of the things in their backpacks, and how to respond to someone going into anaphylactic shock when help is not on its way in the comforting form of a flashing ambulance and doctor in scrubs.
At first the group received the news about the class with ambivalence. Excited for a change of pace, but intimidated by the length and intensity of the course.
Group members sat quietly, listening intently as the WFA instructors shared information and stories about the times they had encountered various injuries and ailments in the backcountry, such as open fractures, avulsions and hyponatremia. As staff, we mentioned among one another that we hadn’t witnessed this amount of attention or focus given to any other activity we had done all week. It was incredible.
The evening after the first day of class I was talking with one client over dinner and he shared that although he had never liked school he had always loved learning new things. He was thankful for this class which had given him the opportunity to remember how much he loved learning.
The class provided an experiential learning environment, which is different from the typical classroom and very appreciated by the clients. One client expressed that she loved the opportunity to act as an injured patient in the scenarios, which reminded her of her passion for theater and acting. She proceeded to reminisce of the plays and musicals she had performed in.
Another client shared that he would have been graduating high school with his friends that weekend if he had not come to Evoke. This brought up a lot of emotions for him, especially at the end of the class when we held a graduation ceremony and presented group members with laminated certification cards as their diplomas.
I believe this class was also a grand empowerment for the clients, increasing their self efficacy as they gained these tools. Not everyone can say they have the knowledge and courage to act on behalf of someone who is in need or in pain. Many of the members of that group posses a great amount of empathy, and now they posses a certain type of strength that allows them to offer aid.
Here the great trap of codependency was also addressed. While desiring to help others, clients were reminded to take care of themselves first. If they do not care for their own safety and health then they will not be able to help others. We processed how this applies to medical situations as well as to their front country relationships.
I believe that this unique learning experience was integral in drawing out thoughts and emotions from the clients. These things may have never come up for them in such an influential way without this class. I am hopeful, anticipating future ideas and opportunities that Evoke will present to groups, looking for new ways to foster learning and personal growth.