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Trauma & Healing

The purpose of this workshop is to promote and enhance understanding of the real, physiological injury of trauma, as well as the natural symptoms of post-traumatic impacts and the problematic emotional and behavioral challenges we see in survivors who have grown up in unsafe communities or homes.  All behaviors and choices, even “bad” ones, communicate something about a person’s life and experience in the world.  Kids often can’t tell us what’s wrong with words, so they tend to communicate their needs, or pain, through unsafe choices and behaviors.  Our work puts us in direct contact every day with extremely challenging—at times, dangerous—behaviors from very injured people.  These are the clients who have gotten in trouble and continue to do so, who have faced many punitive consequences, yet so many never seem to learn their lesson, straighten up, or get better. 


We now know that emotional or psychological trauma is an actual injury, causing changes, or disruptions, in the functioning of the brain, heart, and nervous system.  The symptoms of trauma are natural — this is what people do when exposed to unhealthy or unsafe experiences, particularly while growing up.  Trauma is an injury, yet it can heal… with the right types of support and replacement experiences.  Our brains grow and develop based on the stimulation we receive in early life.  When people, especially children, experience too much fear, pain, shame, loss, or grief, it causes the brain to develop in ways that can cause problems for a lifetime.  Yet with stimulating play and LOTS of positive interaction, the injured can, and do, heal.  Unfortunately, because injured behaviors are often simply understood as “bad” behaviors to be punished, many injured people never get the acceptance and support they so badly need in order to recover.  They are too caught-up with negative consequences, criticism, and judgment. Trauma causes an injury to the mind and body, yet these are “use-dependent”.  So, we can actually influence ongoing neurological and physical development, HEALING, based on what we do, and the way we engage the senses.  This workshop will help to enhance understanding of trauma but will also demonstrate and engage participants in activities that provide healing stimulation to the traumatized brain and system.



Participants will learn:


  • Brief background on trauma study and treatment in U.S.

  • The physiological impacts and symptoms of trauma and the unsafe, or injured behaviors that can result

  • Some basics on neural/emotional development

  • How and why certain types of experiences stimulate healthy development and HEALING from traumatic injuries

Trauma-Informed Communication; Avoiding Triggers & More Healing Interactions

The purpose of this workshop is to provide a trauma-informed framework for improving basic communication and interactions, as well as therapeutic approaches and relationships with traumatized populations in our care.  We know now that psychological and/or physical trauma, often quite related, are an injury to our mind and body, our thinking and emotions, our cognitive and physical state.  And yet by improving our understanding of traumatic symptoms and sensitivities, we can improve therapeutic relationships and outcomes, by truly demonstrating and conveying our real desire and intention, and our ability, to help.  I believe that we all come to this work to provide quality care and assistance to those who need us, but it is essential to continue to focus on emotional intelligence, as well as how our own influences, mood or stress-level may impact professional interactions, both with our consumers as well as members of our own teams.  Sometimes it just involves some good old-fashioned common sense, but it’s also important to look at what evidence has demonstrated will improve the way we interact w/ one-another.  The way we look, sound, our tone and volume, many verbal and non-verbal factors come into play, not to mention the words we choose and the way we structure our sentences.  Positive communication does not always come as natural and instinctive, as many negative ‘norms’ and practices continue to be handed down from generation to generation, causing some likely influence upon us all.  And positive communication does not mean that all matters discussed are positive or pleasant, of course!  No, positive communication is most important and beneficial, when matters are more serious or even urgent, and the greater the crisis, then greater is the need for our most professional, calm, compassionate, and rational responses. 


Educational Objectives:


  • Brief introduction/Review of trauma, definitions, symptoms, cognitive, emotional, and physical impacts

  • Importance of understanding hyper-vigilance in survivors, implications for communications and interactions

  • Understanding how our own experiences, influences, beliefs and values can contribute to positive or negative interactions

  • Identifying common barriers or blockers to healthy/positive interactions, as well as strategies and concepts for improving our communications, responses, and approaches

Structuring Therapeutic Process to be more Trauma-Informed, Ethical, & Effective

The purpose of this workshop is to provide an ethical and trauma-informed framework for how therapy and treatment can be structured to maximize benefit and effectiveness.  It is important to introduce and structure the therapeutic relationship and process in a way that lays a foundation for treatment, a basic understanding of trauma and related symptoms, emotional intelligence, as well as a format for therapy sessions to help clients and patients keep their processing productive.  Presenting treatment concepts and psychological education with confidence, as well as evidence, is essential for helping consumers invest more in the therapeutic process, and this buy-in and belief in the potential and likelihood for positive change has actually been proven to improve treatment outcomes.  People get better, at higher rates, when they believe they can, and it is up to us as clinicians to both model and lend this confidence to those who are struggling, we can help them believe more in themselves as well as their own treatment process! And doing this again with evidence helps avoid ethical dilemmas that may result from ‘certified advice-giving’.


We will also be discussing ethical considerations with confidentiality as well as our own efforts related to ethical treatment of children or adults, voluntary or mandated clients, people who are cooperative and invested along w/ those WHO MAY NOT WANT TO BE THERE.  Understanding the role of consumers’ individual cultures and backgrounds, how these can affect interactions and approaches, will also be covered as potential barriers or ways to improve cultural sensitivity.


  Participants will re-examine some basic steps in the early phases and introductions to treatment for consumers coming into our care, providing them with important and empowering foundational knowledge to beginning the healing process, to what evidence shows will improve various life outcomes.  We will also cover basics in self-care that are quite essential to improve mood, health, and performance of roles, for consumers of our services as well as ourselves.  Modeling confidence for consumers will again be emphasized, and we will talk more about ways to challenge clients and patients, to challenge themselves to take on the tasks necessary for returning to healthier functioning.  The goal of treatment is recovery, positive change….. and returning or resuming with role is emphasized as providing important and necessary stimulation to survivors, engaging with experiences that help establish or restore positive identity and improved long-term outcomes.



Educational Objectives:


  • Brief introduction/Review of trauma, definitions, symptoms, cognitive, emotional, and physical impacts

  • Important considerations for how we begin and present treatment to consumers

  • Use of confidentiality for building trust and developing therapeutic relationship/process

  • Importance of understanding and sensitivity for approaches w/ consumers from diverse cultures and backgrounds

  • Importance of presenting treatment and psychological education w/ CONFIDENCE and EVIDENCE

  • Community Meeting Process for healthy ritual and helping structure sessions and practicing emotional intelligence