|Wilma Bass, MFT, is a licensed mental health professional who has been active in the field of trauma response for two decades. She is the founder of Trauma Outreach Associates, Inc., a group specializing in providing state-of-the-art crisis intervention services to businesses that experience a workplace critical incident. Wilma is inspired and invigorated by the scope of crisis intervention and trauma response in restoring equilibrium following a traumatic experience. Wilma has consulted to a wide array of organizations, from schools to non-profits to businesses. She has been a regular contributor to Urban School's Telling Their Stories project, advising teachers and students as well as volunteering since 2003.
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Wilma Bass was interviewed by adult members of the 2009 week-long workshop, Telling Their Stories: Producing Web-Based Digital Video Oral Histories summer professional development course. This section is not transcribed but instead the interview is presented in total via the seven parts below.
- Part 1 of 7 - interviewer introductions; introduction of Wilma Bass; growing up in South Africa and her own experience witnessing trauma; active in anti-Apartheid movement; jailed in South Africa due to protest; her reasons for getting involved in the anti-Apartheid movement; reasons for entering field as trauma therapist; defining trauma and characteristics.
- Part 2 of 7 - separating personal life from work as a therapist; compassion fatigue and vicarious traumatization where the listener can take on symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); need for healthy practices for interviewer/listeners; preparation and debriefing strategies with students (direct instruction about trauma); healing benefits for the interviewee in having his/her story witnessed; making debriefing process safe for students via a confidentiality understanding; strategies to help student/interviewers.
- Part 3 of 7 - potential of triggers of trauma for interviewee; signs and symptoms of trauma; cognitive symptoms (ex., confusion, concentration, forgetfulness); emotional; behavioral (eg., addiction); somatic/physical (eg. sweating, nausea, heart palpitation, breathing difficulties); range of trauma and human resiliency; being non-judgmental and respectful.
- Part 4 of 7 - varied responses of students/interviewers; varied victim responses; flight or fight mode (examples from animal world); more on supporting students/interviewers (checking in, journaling); power of the interview group process.
- Part 5 of 7 - students/interviewers who do not react; secondary trauma as passed down via generations; characteristics of PTSD; brain mapping of trauma centers; disconnection of emotions from physical body; therapy centering around mind-body harmony; collective bonding of mass event.
- Part 6 of 7 - caring for selves when interviewing trauma; her experiences with Telling Their Stories and Max Garcia's interviews; when to move forward or hold back on going deeper; showing empathy; reads letter to Max Garcia in 2003; bringing witness back to their moments of trauma.
- Part 7 of 7 - interviewer's capacity to be with the interviewer; tips/advice on how interviewee can listen and attend to trauma stories (take stock of self, avoiding detachment, healthy food and exercise, using the group as support); preparing for possibility of interviewees attempts to shock interviewers into understanding their story; exercises to learn boundaries.