The Portable Calm is an eight-week online evidence-based training for global mental health and medical professionals, humanitarian aid workers, educators and those on the frontlines of trauma. It is an immersive experience providing structure, inspiration and support for anyone wishing to establish a daily mindful awareness practice.
Through an experiential framework of contemplative practices and group work, The Portable Calm serves as the Level 1 Foundation Module for Contemplative Based Trauma and Resiliency Training (CBTRT). The Portable Calm helps cultivate resilience by strengthening the capacity for self-regulation and building protective internal factors essential to the prevention of burnout.
Research suggests that trauma is not created by traumatic events but occurs when the body's emergency circuitry is overwhelmed, mobilized for fight/flight and unable to get back to a state of calm. Trauma is expressed in symptoms that are painfully disruptive to well-being. Resilience is the essential ability to get back to calm, to "bounce back."
Trauma affects human resilience at neural, genetic, community, interpersonal, and multi-generational levels. In the Contemplative Based Trauma and Resiliency Training (CBTRT) we focus on the important task of re-thinking the trauma paradigm at a personal, community and global level. We start with The Portable Calm by creating the opportunity to simply begin with ourselves.
Based in our shared human neurobiology, CBTRT transcends culture, race, gender, religion, tribe, ethnicity and socio-economic status. The training is conducted by the faculty of the International Center for Mental Health and Human Rights. One hundred percent of the tuition fees are used to cover the expenses of program implementation and development. The curriculum has been implemented and/or adapted for mental health professionals and humanitarian aid staff deployed throughout UN Peace Keeping Missions in the Middle East, refugee camps in Africa, and other social service and non-governmental agencies across cultures.
Whether it is in a private practice setting, educational setting or in a tent within a refugee camp, CBTRT offers a clear pathway. We believe in the "train the trainer" model. By first learning skills to become more self-regulated, mindful, grounded and compassionate ourselves, we can teach others.
To see one of our CBTRT in-country programs, please view this short video of our work in Northern Uganda, The Healing Environment: Inner Landscapes. Password: Uganda.
Each week of The Portable Calm is organized into "On the Cushion" and "Off the Cushion" experiences. The "On the Cushion" work consists of sequenced audio meditations, each about 23 minutes, delivered weekly through the online platform. Research suggests that eight weeks of daily practice helps to train the brain's "neurological muscle memory" for calm, compassionate, mindful attention.
The "Off the Cushion" work helps us to identify "choice-points" throughout the day to "re-set" amidst the very real experiences of daily life. Awareness prompts help us bring our mindful focus to small moments. We begin with the task of cultivating self-compassion in order to re-imagine self-care.
Both "On the Cushion" and "Off the Cushion" work helps to lay the foundation for self-regulation in our daily lives.
The small group chat offers the space to explore and reflect. Together we can explore the triumphs and difficulties of shifting from our automatic reactive responses to more moments of calm. Together we create a space to offer and receive support as we learn how to make the nervous system our ally.
We take a relational stance towards resilience. Our small online groups provide a space for connection in the work of creating positive change. The felt sense of bonding and belonging that occurs between group members and the facilitator(s) is an essential part of the process.
Each cohort is led by an experienced group facilitator who moderates the weekly online discussions, providing support and insight from relevant mind/body/brain research to help to create a healing environment within the group. Our facilitators are selected for their strength in group skills, first- hand experience in contemplative practice, cultural humility and compassion.
Your small group of 8-12 participants will log in from across the globe to share reflections, ask questions, celebrate successes and explore challenges. Deep group dialogue over the eight- weeks provides a safe container to integrate the experience, enabling you to achieve more lasting results.
In our preliminary pilot study in 2017, we collected pre/post program data to test the efficacy of The Portable Calm protocol with 60 participants. Our participants spanned 17 time zones, five continents and represented diverse culture and gender orientations. They were divided into four small online groups. We used the World Health Organization's Wellbeing Assessment Survey (WHO-5) to quantify potential qualitative increases in well-being and resilience. The participants who completed the full 8 weeks realized statistically significant increases in their scores, corresponding to powerful and positive changes in the five areas listed above.
The biggest change in the eight weeks was a new, reliable and deeper sense of calm in their lives. Together we can re-imagine self-care and make profound changes in our lives. Join us!
Moses, Uyudell Rehabilitation Centre, Kampala, Uganda - In our facility at Uyudell Rehabilitation Centre we use The Portable Calm as a resiliency practice to deal with trauma, depression and anxiety with young people experiencing difficulty. Although we employ other psychotherapies such as cognitive behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy and client centered therapy, we find that The Portable Calm is a very practical and more immediate form of treatment. The young people say that it makes them feel calm despite their difficulties. Their attention is more focused and their minds are more relaxed. Ever since we introduced the intervention, we have received less complaints about sickness. I highly recommend the program!
Jenna, Psychotherapist, Boulder, Colorado, US - The Portable Calm practice offered me a consistent daily ritual that supported me in many ways. I noticed, after only a short time, that the practice influenced my sense of overall calm, the capacity to meet challenging circumstances with greater grace and clarity, a deepened connection to my calm despite unforeseen life events, and even allowed for more compassion and connection when relating to difficult others. I found the online platform fun and easy to use. One of my favorite features of the Portable Calm was connecting with people from all over the country. I highly recommend this program to anyone who is looking for additional support, daily practice, and a deepened sense of community!
Eva, Physician, Göteborg, Sweden - In my current work with refugees, as well as in my previous work in primary care, I noticed how my colleagues struggled to manage our stress levels. Our patients have trauma histories, severe illness and difficult social situations. I noticed my own struggle to meet this suffering. The Portable Calm is a challenging but necessary resource for caregivers. It has changed how I take care of myself, my loved ones and others, including my patients. To be able to self-regulate, to listen to my body, to learn to be self-compassionate and to be compassionate to others has been a great learning experience. I learned how to increase my own capacity to meet patients with different kinds of suffering. The Portable Calm training is incredibly valuable.
Tatum, ER Physician Assistant, Chicago, Illinois, US - As a Physician Assistant in an Emergency Department and someone who has experienced a great deal of anxiety and stress, I believe in the power of The Portable Calm. It is an awesome practice and tool for anyone in even the most stressful situation. It reminds us to stop and notice, then return to a place of calm and self-compassion in the moment. This simple change on a daily basis has made an incredible impact on my life. I am so grateful for the Portable Calm.
Isaac, Community Psychologist, Adjumani District, Uganda - I work with the Ugandan Red Cross as a community psychologist. I am a 2017 graduate of the CBTRT certification program. The Portable Calm strengthened my ability to self-regulate, and taught me how to be mindful, calm and compassionate in the midst of working with others with traumatic experience. It gives me the resilience and the confidence to train humanitarian aid workers and staff from organizations on the frontlines of trauma in the refugee camps in West Nile region in Uganda, home to more than 700,000 South Sudanese refugees. I recommend The Portable Calm and the CBTRT training for every professional who works with communities and persons affected by difficult life experiences, emotional trauma and high levels of stress. I am deeply grateful for The Portable Calm and the ICMHHR Executive Director, Gaea Logan, for championing contemplative based trauma and resiliency training which is now being conducted in the refugee camps in Uganda.I have seen the impact. It is life changing!
Maria, Clinical Supervisor, Charlotte, North Carolina, US - I am a clinical supervisor who works with victims of domestic violence. The Portable Calm has been one of my life saviors as I nourish myself back to health after a life-threatening illness. It has become a limitless source of strength and comfort for me. During difficult moments, it allows me to experience self-compassion in many forms. The Portable Calm has changed me in extraordinary ways, both in my personal and professional life. It is a gift that inspires me to live a life with a purpose. I discovered how to have a "healthy self" in my professional life by cultivating balanced care for myself, my relationships, and the people I serve. I am wholeheartedly grateful for this gift of knowledge and practices that truly build resilience!
Gaea Logan, LPC-S, CGP, FAGPA is the Executive Director/Founder of the International Center for Mental Health and Human Rights. Ms. Logan is an international trainer, clinical consultant and licensed psychotherapist. She is an alumna of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma / Global Mental Health and a Fellow of The American Group Psychotherapy Association. Dedicated to humanitarian relief and focused on the long term risk of multi-generational trauma, Ms. Logan has provided trauma-informed care within refugee communities for over thirty five years. She has co-authored several contemplative based trauma and resiliency curriculum: The Portable Calm, Calming Minds for Children, and Inner Peacekeepers developed for the United Nations Peace Keeping Network. She also co-authored "Self Regulation for Kids K-12: Calming Minds and Behavior" providing innovative trauma-informed group interventions for counsellors, teachers and school districts working with at-risk children in wounded communities. In recognition of clinical excellence and humanitarian outreach, she is the recipient the 2015 Social Responsibility Award from the Group Foundation for Advancing Mental Health.
Patricia Tollison, PhD, CGP is a writer and psychologist in private practice in Austin, Texas. Dr. Tollison is a clinical consultant and national trainer in the areas of group psychotherapy and trauma informed crisis intervention. She has taught at the preschool, middle school, and university levels and has over thirty-five years of experience in the field of group psychotherapy. Her extensive background in clinical work and her developmental focus on working with children and adolescents forms the foundation for her co-authored book, SOS! A Practical Guide for Leading Solution-Focused Groups with Kids K-12. The SOS! intervention model is widely implemented in school districts across the United States and is recognized as a curriculum resource by the American Group Psychotherapy Association. Dr. Tollison also co-authored Self-Regulation for Kids K-!2 Calming Minds and Behavior, a trauma prevention and intervention model emphasizing the use of embodied mindful awareness to increase self-regulation and resilience. She is the co-develper of the contemplative based curriculum The Portable Calm and its' adaptation for children, Calming Minds.
Isaac Etoku is a faculty member, project manager and in-country specialist at the International Center for Mental Health and Human Rights. Over the past nine years, he has worked with international non-governmental organizations delivering trans-cultural psychosocial and mental health care for refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in Northern Uganda. As a certified CBTRT instructor, he leads The Portable Calm training online and on the ground groups for humanitarian aid workers, health workers and refugee youth as part of a large collaboration between ICMHHR and The School of Public Health at Makerere University in Uganda. He dissertation research in community psychology focuses on the prevalence of PTSD, depression and coping skills among persons formerly affected by the insurgency of the Lord’s Resistance Army. He graduated with honors from Makerere University.
Jay Erwin-Grotsky, LCSW, CGP, FAGPA is a psychotherapist in private practice in Austin, Texas. Since 1981 he has been passionate about the power of the small group cohort and committed to clinical excellence in group leadership. He has presented numerous times as at the American Group Psychotherapy Association on co-leadership and on humor in groups. He is a nationally respected Institute leader and a Fellow of the American Group Psychotherapy Association. With his group experience and rich background in contemplative education, he joins the International Center for Mental Health and Human Rights as a group consultant and training supervisor. He is a Certified Group Psychotherapist.