The SARBI Women’s Program (SWP) was developed to optimize the psychological, emotional, sexual, and social well-being of female survivors of acquired brain injury (ABI) in Saskatoon, Canada. The SWP was created by combining input and information garnered from academic research and the insights of ABI professionals and clients. The program was grounded in principles of holistic health and feminist healing and pedagogy. The pilot program was first implemented in the fall of 2012 with five women who had sustained moderate to severe brain injuries 6 to 42 years prior. The program was delivered across ten program sessions eachieve of which centered around a particular theme relevant to the wellbeing of female survivors (e.g. social relationships). Each session included open discussions, interactive exercises and activities, and casual bonding time which fostered camaraderie and communication through leisure activities, food, and open conversation.
Throughout the SWP, formative assessment activities (quantitative, qualitative, and ethnographic) were undertaken in order to explore how the program was being experienced and received by participants, identify beneficial aspects and processes of the program, and generate ideas for program improvement. Analysis of quantitative and qualitative client feedback data indicated that the SWP resonated with women’s needs and concerns and was perceived as enjoyable, relevant, and educational. Women’s positive descriptions of sessions were focused mainly around their enjoyment of food and activities, a sense of togetherness/bonding, and talking and sharing with others, suggesting that interacting with the other women in the group was the most meaningful aspect of the program. Findings from further analysis of the program sessions themselves were consistent with client feedback and illustrated how the program space supported the ability of female survivors to celebrate and foreground multiple positive aspects of the self, enhancing feelings of belonging, normalcy, competence, and self-esteem. Based on these analyses the SWP proved highly successful, and SARBI will be offering modified versions of the program for both alumni and new groups of female survivors.