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Witness to Witness (W2W)

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American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) and Witness to Witness project logos

The American Family Therapy Academy's Witness to Witness (W2W) program serves those who are in high-stress jobs working with clients who are themselves experiencing high levels of stress. The helpers need help! Originally designed to assist those working with asylum seekers, detainees, migrants, and immigrants at the border, W2W has expanded to serve a range of providers who are overexposed to stories of trauma. Those the program serves may be suffering from stress, empathic stress, and/or moral injury. W2W is currently offering a free service to those working with a range of occupational groups in a range of settings, such as youth counselors in prisons to first responders at natural disasters to advocates working with detained families.


Sign up for a conversation with a Witness to Witness clinical specialist.                 Camp Fire W2W signup

About the Program

The W2W program uses Dr. Kaethe Weingarten’s witnessing model to provide assistance to those health care professionals, lawyers, advocates, support staff, and others who are committed to help yet are experiencing harms themselves. Some have prior histories of trauma that are being re-activated. Many are working in low resource situations; they may have neither conceptual maps to understand their predicament nor material resources to take care of their own needs.

The program operates with a clear structure. There is a psycho-educational component and then AFTA volunteers provide one to four conversations (phone or video) that are geared to deep listening of the person’s story of their work and its challenges; an inventory of the person’s current internal and external resources both in the present and the past; help with removal of barriers to those resources; and development of a personal toolkit for acute stress. While the conversations may be therapeutic, the program does not offer therapy.


Director of Witness to Witness 

Kaethe Weingarten, PhD

Kaethe Weingarten, PhD, directs the American Family Therapy Academy’s (AFTA) Witness to Witness Program, a project pairing AFTA members with providers overexposed to stories of trauma. She is the founder and director of The Witnessing Project, a nonprofit organization that consults to individuals, families, and communities locally, nationally, and internationally to transform passive witnessing of violence and violation into effective action. She was an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology for the Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry from 1981-2017 and a faculty member of the Family Institute of Cambridge where she founded and directed the Program in Families, Trauma and Resilience. (Kaethe is pronounced Kay-tah.)



Learn more about Witness to Witness here:

Watch the MCN webinar, Witnessing: Understanding the Effects of Overexposure to Stories of Trauma and What to Do About It (Part 1 of 2)

Watch the MCN webinar for administrators, managers, and supervisors, Witnessing: How Supervisors Can Strengthen Peer Support in the Workplace (Part 2 of 2)

Access materials on witnessing provided by Dr. Weingarten on our resources page:

Read the MCN piece with Dr. Weingarten "Witnessing: How Clinicians Can Move From Traumatic Stress to Empowerment While Serving Their Immigrant Patients".

Read more about Dr. Weingarten's book, Common Shock, with links to various online stores for purchase on GoodReads
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