Back in the 1980’s, Professor Mooli Lahad and Dr. Ofra Ayalon developed what is known as the Basic PH model. This is a model I‘m very familiar with as my mother Judith, has worked with this model for many years in her work around ongoing trauma and high stress situations. She gives workshops and talks around this model and uses it in her work as a psychotherapist. Being so familiar with this model I began to notice small things that were happening in the Chester community when lockdown began. I started to analyse people’s actions and notice how the work that they are doing fits right in with the Basic PH model without them even knowing.
I sat down for a chat with my mum to discuss what the model really is about, and how the people of Chester have implemented it amazingly to help our community stay strong and resilient during these testing times.
So what really is the purpose of the Basic PH model?
“To help organise the practical knowledge of how to handle emergency situations before, after, and during the event, and to develop resilience within the individual, a family, and the community. That being said, this model can also be implemented in any situation; I use it for interview prep or for building a community. It’s all about giving people the tools and knowledge they need to be able to handle a situation.”
The Basic PH model is split into six resources that each individually can help a person develop resilience. These elements are not dependent on each other and can appear individually in a person’s own resilience journey. Judith says: “What I like about this model is that it’s equal, no one element is more important than another and the idea behind it is that it’s for people to implement in their everyday lives.”
That being said, in most cases more than one element is used at a time. Let’s break down each element and what it means.
“This refers to a person’s belief system that they draw strength from. This can go from a person’s participation in organised religion and prayer, to the belief that it’ll all work out in the end. It’s the messages and the concepts that help us believe that there is hope, that’ it will all be ok.”
So, for example, when everyone was drawing rainbows to brighten up the streets of Chester. It’s the thought that in the end it’ll all be ok. After the rain, comes the rainbow.
“This is the use of emotions with an emphasis on emotions that move us forward. For example caring, love, joy. Enjoying the little things, looking out for others.”
Seeing a flower in your garden, having Zoom parties in the evenings, walking outside in the sunshine or in the pouring rain, all these use the Affect channel.
“This is the biggest one for communities. This refers to both the giving and receiving of support from others”
When lockdown started, a mirror appeared on Vicarage Road in Hoole with quotes written on it. Happy quotes, kind quotes, and they changed every day. I asked Lorraine Harnett, the woman who writes the quotes, what drove her to do it. She said “Because when lockdown started everyone needed to give, but I was unable to continue with my work. I was stuck in the house feeling the same feelings of fear that a lot of other people were and I got the idea from another road in Hoole called Park Drive where my friend lives – they had a little sign and I thought it was such a lovely thing to do”.
The mirror was later stolen and the community riled behind Lorraine, giving her a blackboard and chalk to write with and helping her nail it to the tree outside her house. It became quite a community project. “It’s important when you are in isolation to be able to give,” she concludes.
“This can come out in two ways. Firstly, within the arts. Using art or humour to express what’s going on. Mooli Lahad refers to it as being in a fantastical space. The second way is the use of play. The resurgence of boardgames during lockdown is exactly what this channel is discussing. “
During lockdown I have received a jigsaw puzzle that was given away via the Next Door app by a neighbour. Having this distraction and moment of play has helped me stay grounded during this time.
“This refers to both information and a plan of action you create based on that information. Having an organised plan helps you stay focused and centred.”
During lockdown a lot of local food businesses turned to takeaway and delivery options. They used planning and got it done.
“This refers to the use of your body. Both the idea of taking care of your self: eating well, sleeping well, and any physical activity you may do. This could be of course exercising but can also refer to things like knitting, baking, gardening, or anything else that gets your body moving.”
Have you taken up baking or gardening during lockdown? Have you been enjoying going out for a run or a cycle? Did you start a new hobby? All those are physical actions to get your body going and focus your energy.
Many of you may have noticed that a lot of the examples I’ve given here can be applied to other channels as well, which is exactly what the model is about. Take Short + Stout, a business that I think really implemented this model.
Short + Stout are a cafe in Hoole. As soon as the whisperings of lockdown started, they began delivering cakes to their customers, this continued as lockdown kicked in. Eventually, they set up a whole new business: Short + Stout Cookies. Lockdown is now easing and the cafe is starting to get back into action, even if it’s in a smaller takeaway capacity, but their cookie business is still there. “At first we started with the cakes and one type of peanut butter cookies,” Sarah Noden, the owner told me, “and then we started getting people telling us that they would love to be able to send them to friends and family in London and other places outside of Chester, so that’s where the postal service idea came in”.
Sarah said that as she had been working her whole life, not doing anything was really hard for her, and getting to work on the cookie business really helped: “for me personally to have to come to work and do some baking, it was hard work to be doing it all myself, but it gave me focus, it meant I had to get up, I had to go do this, I had to interact with customers as I was doing all the deliveries myself so I was getting to see other people. Everyone was struggling in lockdown but I was getting out, I was seeing customers even if it was only waving to them in their garden”.
What can we see in the actions of Short + Stout in relation to the Basic PH model?
They used the cognition channel by setting up a plan of action. The work that they did is physical work as well as imaginative. They have passion and love for their business, and they had the community’s support behind them and it helped them interact and socialise with others. Lastly, they had hope and belief in themselves and the business.
What the Short + Stout example shows us is that this model can be applied for anything and at any time. Resilience, and the elements of this model, are things we all have inside of ourselves and we just need to identify them and draw from them in times of need.
What should we do for the future? Firstly, if you are struggling, take a moment to think of what you need right now, what do you most enjoy and brings you happiness, and focus on that, even if it’s for a day or for a week, just one thing you can do to make you feel better. It could be going out for a run, it could be seeing friends (socially distancing of course), or it could be solving a jigsaw. Whatever it is, take the time for it.
For Chester and the community, we must draw from the resources we have shown we have within ourselves during this time and work to continue to strengthen those. The community spirit, the support for local businesses, the love. Let’s continue to support one another and ourselves so that no matter what happens, we know we have each other to rely on.