In our March 20 webinar, Support After Abortion Provider Relationship Development Specialist Amanda Hoff dove into the power of collaborating with Support After Abortion, clinicians, intersecting agencies, and pregnancy resource centers. 

She was joined by four guest speakers who shared their stories of successfully collaborating to provide comprehensive support, tailored services, and a nurturing environment for individuals navigating abortion experiences.

INTRO

Amanda is a former director of a pregnancy resource center and understands on a deep level that collaborating with other agencies is a hugely important way to help both women and men in need of help, resources, and healing. 

She also understands that giving clients a massive list of resources without any kind of connections to them can be overwhelming and not helpful. She explains, 

So we had this big list of resources that we would give out to our clients, and it was probably 15 pages with all these different resources and organizations that our clients could connect with to get help. But I found that to be really overwhelming, not just for my clients, but also for myself, because I wasn’t aware of all the different services each one offered. I didn’t know anything about their intake process or the requirements of their programs. And so one of the things that I really sought to do as the director of my center is to reach out to those organizations to build relationships with them, to learn more about the services that they offered and to also share with them and bring awareness of the services that we offered at our center so that we could collaborate and have that relationship.

This is her passion and she brings her knowledge about working closely with other organizations and knowing exactly what they offer to this webinar. 

Collaborating with other abortion healing providers, churches, and community organizations is crucial to helping people who need it. She said that “we know there are possibly 22 million people in the nation that need healing. We cannot possibly help all of them by ourselves. We have to work together to be effective.”

PROMOTING COLLABORATION

There are many paths to one goal but working together is the most efficient way to get there.

Amanda shared an African Proverb that resonates with her: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together

“It speaks so beautifully,” she said, “to the power of collaboration. If we set aside our own individual metrics, agendas, and even our differences, we can work together and bring healing to so many people.”

BENEFITS OF COLLABORATION

There are so many benefits to working together to provide healing resources to those who need it most. Amanda discussed several.

Ability to Offer Options

Amanda explained that by collaborating with Support After Abortion, you can receive training on how to offer options you may not currently be offering. You may even find programs perfect for your clients that you didn’t know existed. Support After Abortion is passionate about options-based healing because we can meet clients where they are at with lots of different options. 

By collaborating with providers , we can serve clients “in a more holistic way that meets them where they are,” she said.

Support After Abortion connects clients to a variety of abortion healing options including in-person, virtual, and self-guided; religious and secular; women’s and men’s programs and resources.

Building Capacity

Collaborating with other providers enables you to refer clients if your own programs are at capacity or if that provider offers a healing option you don’t. You can also receive referrals, which grows the number of clients you’re serving. 

This enables you to be a trusted resource in your community because you are able to help so many more people due to your collaborative efforts. 

Support and Encouragement

Amanda discussed how providers can support and encourage each other through collaboration by building relationships with other providers, both within and outside your local community.  

One thing Amanda has noticed when she is working with providers is that they often tell her they feel alone. 

“A lot of providers say they feel alone or on an island or like they’re not a high priority in their organizations,” Amanda shared. “Or they don’t feel like they have the support and encouragement that they need.”

So many of us who work in this healing space have these same feelings. It’s not easy work – physically, emotionally, spiritually – but by working together, that support and encouragement will shine through. 

“I can be the person who encourages the providers I talk with, but you can be that source of support and encouragement for each other,” Amanda said.

Decrease Burnout

All of these things work together to help decrease burnout. Burnout is a very real and difficult thing in this space. Amanda has seen that by collaborating closely with each other, by supporting and encouraging each other, by receiving referrals, and by helping to build capacity together, it all works to decrease burnout. 

“I know this is not easy work,” Amanda said, “This is a hard space to be in but it’s so needed. We do often see high levels of burnout when we don’t have these benefits of collaboration.”

TYPES ORGANIZATIONS FOR COLLABORATION

There are many types of organizations you can collaborate with. Amanda discusses some of these in the webinar but notes that this isn’t an exhaustive list. Rather, it’s a place to start. 

Support After Abortion

Support After Abortion has a plethora of ways to collaborate with other organizations including: 

  • Webinars (just like this one!)
  • Men’s Healing Webinars 
  • Quarterly Facilitator Training Webinars
  • Individualized coaching program for facilitators
  • Keys to Hope & Healing and Unraveled Roots Facilitator trainings
  • BrightCourse training 
  • Digital resource library 

Clinicians

Amanda highlighted great benefits to partnering with clinicians. 

One example is being able to refer clients who are struggling with issues outside your scope to trusted clinicians due to the relationships you have built with them.

Amanda shared that some clinicians are willing to set up sliding scale fees for clients from partnering organizations. Clinicians may also offer training and resources for your staff and volunteers. This is a great way to help your entire staff learn about what these clinicians offer. 

 Other Abortion Healing Providers

Some pregnancy resource centers have developed great relationships with each other within their city or area. “We’re not in competition,” Amanda said. “There are so many people who need our help and services and we can reach so many more people if we can work together.”

The Support After Abortion Abortion Healing Provider Directory enables providers to connect with other providers both within and outside their local communities.

Support After Abortion also uses this directory to connect clients to the type of healing service and provider that they are looking for. Contact Amanda to discuss joining the directory.

Intersecting Agencies

There are many factors that research has shown increases risk for unplanned pregnancies, which then comes a higher rate for abortions. These factors include things like substance use, homelessness, domestic abuse, codependency, sex trafficking, addiction, unemployment, and financial instability. For abortion healing providers, Intersecting agencies are organizations that serve people with these types of factors, and therefore who may have been impacted by abortion.

By reaching out to these different types of organizations, you can spread awareness to them about the abortion healing programs you offer that might benefit them as resources for their clients who may disclose their abortion experience to them, Amanda explained. 

“Support After Abortion has had a lot of success collaborating with organizations that specialize in addictions, sex trafficking, domestic violence, and mental health,” Amanda said. “It’s a reciprocal relationship and we’ve been able to help each other.” 

REAL LIFE EXAMPLES

Leaders from three organizations that have collaborated with Support After Abortion joined Amanda to discuss their specific roles in abortion healing recovery and share examples of how to best promote collaboration in communities. 

RECOVERY CARE COORDINATOR

Marley is the Recovery Care Coordinator for a pregnancy resource center in South Carolina. She previously worked at the same center 12 years ago. She then worked in prison ministry, women’s ministry, and other recovery programs. She went back to the center to work in their Abortion Recovery Care with lots more experience and connections. 

Marley has been instrumental in building bridges between her pregnancy center and addiction recovery programs in her community. These residential-based programs work to provide everything their participants need. Marley’s center has been able to come alongside them, offering classes and other resources to enable them to grow their offerings in after-abortion support.

“For the women especially, it gives them an opportunity to get out, come into the center, to interact with other people, and that has been really successful,” said Marley. 

And how does one make connections within their communities?  Marley suggests getting involved in the chambers of commerce and going to community meetings on topics beyond your center’s issues. “If you want to connect with people, make sure they see your face in the community,” she says. “A lot of times in pregnancy resource ministry, we have a tendency to stay in our office. Open the door, walk outside, and begin to introduce yourself. It really makes a difference.” 

DIRECTORS OF AFTER-ABORTION PROGRAMMING & RELATIONSHIPS

Dietra is the director of an after-abortion support program at a multi-location New York City pregnancy resource center. The director of relationships at the center joined Dietra to weigh in on their collaborations. 

Their organization runs a weekly online meetup where people can just talk and get support. They also have staff advocates who meet with clients one-on-one as many times as they need. They also have a nine-week abortion healing support group for women. They have a men’s after-abortion healing program as well.

Amanda and Dietra briefly discuss some of the ways they have recently worked together, especially in relation to those clients who have been referred to each other for different healing programs. 

Chelsea talked a bit about reciprocal partnerships, specifically with a medical center that does ultrasounds, wellness checks, and after abortion care. “The focus is on their clients’ medical concerns about after abortion care. We are really grateful for that partnership and the ability to offer that to our clients,” she said. Mental health organizations have also been valuable partnerships. We offer subsidized counseling to local approved counseling providers. 

While their center is faith-based, they explained that they work with organizations of any faith or no faith because “it’s about providing the best possible care we can and meeting people where they are for hope,” Dietra said. “We endeavor that no one ever has to walk the after-abortion journey alone, period.”

“We ascribe to the third way, and so we proudly stand in the tension of we just want to be person-centered and trauma-informed, and that’s what we’re here for,” said Dietra. “And so because we sit in that authenticity, it makes it very easy to connect with people that you wouldn’t think we’d connect with.”

HOSPITAL SOCIAL WORKER

A social worker at a major hospital in the Washington, DC metro area described how the hospital staff identified a need after the overturning of Roe v Wade due to a “surge” in the volume of after-abortion patients. She said that “many members of the team felt a sense of distress, uneasiness” that they “didn’t know what to say, what’s appropriate. We don’t know what to do.” 

She shared that their hospital has a “robust perinatal loss program” that she started 16 years ago. “And now here we are developing another program, an after-abortion care program.” 

She said that patients were telling her and other staff that they didn’t receive any kind of after-abortion care information. The hospital’s new aftercare abortion program includes a door card that is placed on a patient’s door that alerts the team to be mindful of the patient’s experience when entering the room. She also created a footprint card for patients who desire footprints as a keepsake, and a healing note card that the team can sign and give to the patient at discharge. They also offer patients preassembled resource folders that include resources from Support After Abortion. 

“We’re so grateful for that, because, again, prior to this collaboration, we didn’t have any materials,” she said. “We find the Keys to Hope and Healing secular booklet, the client healing center card, and the resource card, just to name a few, to be extremely helpful.”

She explained that “Our hospital stands for inclusion, diversity, and equity, where all patients are treated with compassion, regardless of their situation.” 

“When the patient made the challenging decision to terminate the pregnancy,” she said, “she did not believe it would lead to hospitalization.” 

“For us, we looked at it from the perspective of, while this is not in our wheelhouse, it’s important that we collaborate with an organization that can help us in making sure that our patients receive resources that’s tailored to their needs,” she said. 

As part of her team’s efforts to research existing resources, they also reached out to local abortion clinics to see what they offer in terms of after abortion care. One clinic responded with a resource list that combined all types of losses, such as perinatal loss and abortion loss, into one resource basket. “And as you know, perinatal loss, meaning a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, chromosome abnormality, is different from abortion. And so while we again were grateful for that resource list, we knew that it would not be applicable to our patient population,” she said. 

By forming a working group with a couple of her nurses, they are equipping the medical team. For example, they created a nursing checklist for providing supportive and compassionate care, provided resources for the Labor & Delivery staff, and are planning an in-service. 

NEXT STEPS

  • Click here to watch the video of this webinar.
  • Click here to register for the next Abortion Healing Provider webinar.
  • Click here to register for the next Men’s Healing Matters webinar.
  • Click here to register for the next Quarterly Facilitator Training.
  • Click here to access Support After Abortion’s Resource Library.
  • Click here to explore Support After Abortion’s services, resources, and training for Abortion Healing Providers.

 

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