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Trauma-informed Care: Getting Started & Taking It On The Road

March 1, 2016

Trauma-informed Care: Getting Started & Taking It On The Road

The week of February 7th was a big week for all of us here at Hanna Boys Center, and a clear demonstration of our commitment to trauma-informed care.

The week began with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) training for our casework staff. Dr. Roger Solomon led our team through a three-day basic training in this evidence-based intervention technique. We are excited to bring this important treatment option to Hanna to help our boys more effectively process distressing memories.

In addition to EMDR training for our caseworkers, many of our youth counselors and recreation staff were trained in somatocognitive approaches by Dr. Robert Macy and Frank Grijalva of the International Trauma Center. Staff were treated to an engaging session where they learned breathing and movement techniques to reduce stress and improve self-regulation. We are now teaching these techniques to our boys.

On Thursday, February 11th, our entire staff, as well as our friends from Voices Sonoma and Valley of the Moon Children’s Home, were trained in Psychological First Aid. Our intention is to provide tools to all of our staff to help our boys and colleagues better regulate and stabilize. We know that emotional dysregulation is a common byproduct of traumatic experiences. We also know it is not possible to help others self-regulate until the helper has learned to self-regulate.

Much of this and the other work we are doing with our staff is aimed at helping them manage their emotional worlds more successfully, so they can be more fully available to the boys in our care.

This represents a big step forward on our path to trauma-informed care, but we are just getting started. We will continue to keep you abreast of our progress in the months to come.

Taking trauma informed care on the road

At Hanna, we have been working hard to improve how we are addressing trauma and childhood adversity in our program. We have partnered with the International Trauma Center, and Dr. Robert Macy, to help us integrate leading edge practices that promote recovery and build resilience with our boys.

Our plan is not just aimed at improving our in-house efforts, but we hope to bring these practices to the broader community as well. We are pleased to report that we are already making headway on this goal. Last September we hosted a lecture by Dr. Robert Anda, a leading authority in this field, on the impact of adversity on adolescent development. More than 325 people attended, and the overall feedback was very positive.

Two of the attendees that day were Gary and Marcia Nelson. Gary and Marcia have long supported Sonoma Valley nonprofits–particularly education organizations—and both came away from Dr. Anda’s talk feeling they now understood the missing link that explained why some young people struggle more than others in school.

When Hanna began working with the International Trauma Center, we started talking with the Nelsons about the impact of adversity and toxic stress on young children. They introduced us to the leadership at the Sonoma Charter School and over the last two months we have been constructing a plan for how we can work with SCS to help children and their families better manage adversity and toxic stress.

With Gary and Marcia’s help we will begin working this week with their faculty, staff and children to facilitate some of the changes needed to enhance social/emotional learning at Sonoma Charter School, and in doing so, to promote academic achievement. This effort will be led by the International Trauma Center, but Hanna‘s staff will be providing support and assistance.

We are thrilled to have this opportunity to bring what we are learning to the broader community and to work with new partners in this important work.

— Brian Farragher, Executive Director, Hanna Boys Center