Facilitator Guide: Workshop for First Nations Women about FASD Prevention and Skills for Change

The Planning for Change provides a toolkit for facilitators to create and present a workshop for First Nations women on FASD prevention and skills for change, including:

  • Alcohol use during pregnancy and FASD
  • Self-care
  • Ways to improve health
  • Supports for health changes

The resource outlines the multiple health issues facing Canada’s First Nations, but points out, “Pregnancy and motherhood can be times of renewed hope and strength to make important health changes for women and for the future generations”.

The guide is designed to be flexible for use in a variety of settings, such as a one-day workshop or several shorter workshops.  Facilitators are encouraged to choose content that is relevant to the participants, and notes that the content, with some adaptations, may also be useful for workshops with Métis or Inuit women.

The authors note that facilitators do not have to be experts on the topic in order to use the material to produce workshops.  They advise pre-viewing the material and watching the videos to ensure familiarity with the content and to ensure that they are appropriate for the participants.  They encourage facilitators to present the material using a medium that they and the group are comfortable with (e.g. oral presentation/printed handouts/PowerPoint/flipcharts and markers).

The resource encourages sensitivity to individual and community situations.  It notes that some communities may not feel ready to discuss FASD, commenting, “Prevention in First Nations communities requires sensitivity due to the shame and stigma associated with FASD…. If your community is reluctant to talk about FASD, you may want to introduce the issue FASD gently, for example using a workshop name such as Self Help Tools for a Health Pregnancy, Taking Care of Ourselves While Pregnant, Finding Our Way, or a title in the language of your community.”  Finding people in the community who are willing to speak openly about the issue and share their personal story can provide a way of opening up the topic.

There is a recommendation to have two facilitators in place for the parenting workshop, in case issues such as inter-generational trauma emerge, so that one facilitator can take the role of caregiver and support as needed.

The guide stresses the importance of confidentiality, and reminds potential facilitators that their role is to promote health and to help participants build their skills to make healthy choices and provide support and information.

When facilitating a workshop on this topic, the following recommendations are offered:

  • Use a non-judgmental, trauma-informed and strength-based approach.
  • Learn why some women find it hard to stop drinking alcohol.
  • Be aware of how historical factors and current life situations influence health.
  • Nurture a trusting relationship with participants.
  • Link women to needed information and services.
  • Support and promote healthy choices.

The guide cautions that the workshop does not replace the role of a trained addictions counselor or health care provider.  “If a woman is drinking heavily during pregnancy, withdrawal should be medically managed.  Questions regarding risk to the unborn baby and potential termination of the pregnancy should be handled by a health care provider.”

The guide offers information on cultural safety, trauma-informed practice, and motivational interviewing.

The guide addresses:

  • Childcare
  • Developing an agenda for the workshop
  • Materials
  • Developing participant handouts
  • Room set up

Section 1 deals with the Welcome:

  • Opening and prayer
  • Introductions
  • Workshop description, goals and agenda
  • Ground rules

Section 2 looks at Healthy Foundations:

  • Health during pregnancy
  • FASD
  • How much is safe?

Section 3 focuses on Finding Our Way:

  • Identifying strengths
  • Self-care
  • How does change happen?
  • Thinking about change
  • My community supports

Section 4 completes the session with Wrapping Up:

  • Key messages
  • Participant feedback
  • Closing

Facilitator debrief is recommended, especially if there is more than one facilitator, addressing such questions as:

  • What did I learn from the participants?
  • What went well and why?
  • What did not go well and why?
  • What would I do differently next time and why? (e.g. how the workshop was promoted, where the workshop was held, how the workshop was facilitated, the agenda, group activities, handouts, etc.)

The guide concludes by supplying a list of resources and references for facilitators.