Knowing our own skills and boundaries

A fellow Restorative Justice practitioner emailed today.  She had recieved a referral dealing with a loss of life.  She was looking for some help, support and guidance.  I coached her to the best of my skill and ability.

The referral was well intented, but did not seem to generate from the victims, and that is always of primary interest.  So that was my first piece of advisement.

She was complimented that the case was referred to her, but she was wise enough to see it was out of her range of experience and training.  I really have to compliment her on seeing that.  I’ve experienced people taking cases just because they were referred. 

Considering your own training, bias, experiences is VERY important.  I completed the “advance” or severe crime and violence training offered by Dr. Mark Umbriet at the U of M.  It was two years later that I finally completed the MN Dept of Corrections procedures training.  I needed that two years to feel I was in a place of being able to facilitate loss of life cases.

I had a deep wound from leaving one job very quickly.  That needed to heal, I also needed to gather my sense of spirituality, after life and my own belief system about Restorative Justice.  During that time, I also helped our Victim Impact Panels Speakers, this meant supporting them in storytelling about having a loved on killed by drunk driving.  I helped offenders, vicitms, survivors and grew in my comfort over grief, loss and loss of life.  Once I completed the required DOC training, I was a community member in a VOCARE’ program.  The process uses Circles, and stories of those that lost loved ones, and those that took lives from drinking & driving decisions.  I then went on to co-facilitate a Vocare’ session.

The point I really want to make, it to please – don’t be afraid to say ‘NO’ to taking a case.  Especially around severe crime and violence.  Don’t be self centered about wanting to do such a case, that you miss where you might cause harm.  RJ is about REPAIRING Harm, not causing further harm.

Another thing I have seen and want to advise against – – PLEASE do not take loss of life cases on as an individual, you should always CO-facilitate.

We have an obligation to this field and those that seek our services.  There is a careful boundary to seek support, mentorship and deep evaluation before heading into severe crime and violence cases.  Always do your best!

-Kris