Equal Opportunity Group Experience

Toni Bankston, LCSW, BACSBlog, Mind-Body Medicine, New Orleans0 Comments

Equal Opportunity Group

Since my first Mind-Body Medicine Professional Training Program in 2006, there have been so many moments in which I have given quiet thanks for all that I have learned and experienced with the Center. The moment captured in this photo is but one of many. Having facilitated mind-body skills groups in all kinds of places with all kinds of people, young and old, I have noticed so many common themes, including one I’ve heard Jim refer to as the “equal opportunity group experience.”

A great example is the group that I have facilitated with homeless adults since 2009 when the FEMA trailer villages closed, and this is the one that always warms my heart and from which I gain the most inspiration. Some of the participants have been coming to MBS groups since that time and have assumed a leadership role. Other participants in the drop-in group are attending for the first time and discovering the simplicity of the model and how in just one group session they can experience transformation. There are never less than 9-11 participants. Their problems range from crack cocaine addiction to sudden job loss and economic devastation.

Eric, a formerly homeless group member and survivor of Katrina now residing in Louisiana, is very knowledgeable about nutrition, vitamins, and minerals. His experience has enhanced the mindful eating/nutrition didactic group session. Like Eric, there are other “experts,” who are invited to share their expertise in spirituality, exercise (there are several former athletes in the group), and meditation with the group.

This group demonstrates the power and the magnetism of what we offer and what distinguishes our work in the field of behavioral health, wellness, and even disaster recovery. As Jim has said so often, and in so many circumstances, “No one is bigger or smaller, more important or less important… we are all teachers of one another.”

About the Author
Toni Bankston, LCSW, BACS

Toni Bankston, LCSW, BACS

Toni Bankston, LCSW, BACS serves as the Clinical Director of the Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center developing and implementing trauma-focused programs for youth impacted by violent crime. She also works with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, D.C. as Faculty and Global Trauma Relief Team Member in the U.S., Haiti, Israel and the Gaza territories. She is also the co-founder of the Mind-Body Center of Louisiana which furthers the mission of the CMBM in South Louisiana by providing wellness through mind-body skills to healthcare professionals and in response to Disaster. Her 27 years as a child and family therapist has focused on trauma, particularly with exposure to trauma of disadvantaged populations including children and teens and homeless families. She has worked as a first responder in several disaster settings, including Katrina, Rita, and the Horizon Oil Spill, and has published articles related to this work.

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