THE PARALLEL PROCESS NATURE OF
Sandra L. Bloom, M.D.
Trauma-based Parallel Process
Social service systems today are experiencing significant stress.
CHRONIC STRESSORS: HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT
In many helping organizations, neither the staff nor the administrators feel particularly safe with their clients or even with each other.
LACK OF BASIC SAFETY
Atmospheres of recurrent or constant crisis severely constrain the ability of staff to:
constructively confront problems, engage in complex problem-solving, and involve all levels of staff in decision making processes.
LOSS OF EMOTIONAL MANAGEMENT
Communication networks tend to break down under stress and as this occurs, service delivery becomes increasingly fragmented, and organizational memory is lost.
DISSOCIATION, FRAGMENTATION, AMNESIA
When communication networks break down so too do the feedback loops that are necessary for consistent and timely error correction.
As decision-making becomes increasingly non- participatory and problem solving more reactive an increasing number of short-sighted policy decisions are made that appear to compound existing problems.
LOSS OF DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES and PARTICIPATORY MANAGEMENT, LOSS OF COMPLEXITY, IMPAIRED COGNITION
Unresolved interpersonal conflicts increase and are not resolved.
As the situation feels increasingly out of control, organizational leaders become more controlling, instituting ever more punitive measures in an attempt to forestall chaos.
INCREASED AUTHORITARIANISM, LOSS OF CRITICAL JUDGMENT, SILENCING OF DISSENT, INCREASED CONFORMITY
Staff respond to the perceived punitive measures instituted by leaders by acting-out and passive- aggressive behaviors.
Loss of key staff and leaders due to downsizing. Standards of care deteriorate and quality assurance standards are lowered in an attempt to deny or hide this deterioration.
Over time, leaders and staff lose sight of the essential purpose of their work together and derive less and less satisfaction and meaning from the work.
LOSS OF MEANING
When this spiral is occurring, staff feel increasingly angry, demoralized, “burned out”, helpless and hopeless about the people they are working to serve.
Ultimately, if this destructive sequence is not arrested, the organization begins to look and act in uncannily similar ways to the traumatized clients it is supposed to be helping.
SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR, FORE-SHORTENED FUTURE,
LOSS OF CREATIVE PROBLEM-SOLVING
S.E.L.F. represents the four nonlinear, key areas of recovery that provide an organizing framework for the complex problems presented by trauma survivors, by families with problems, and by chronically stressed organizations.
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