November 29, 2019
From Lacey Sheppard, LCSW, Behavioral Health Consultant, Summit Medical Group Bend Memorial Clinic
My experience attending the Trauma Informed Care in Oregon Conference 2019 was incredible. I found myself really hopeful to learn and grow as I prepared my heart and mind to be at this conference and reflecting back, I left taking away more than I had hoped for.
What was really encouraging for me was initial conversations at my table, seeing the spark in many people, and the raw authenticity that people brought with them. I remember feeling both nervous and excited as I had the privilege to speak on compassion stress and vicarious trauma. Before, during, and after the workshop, like many others I attended, I experienced people’s listening eyes, thoughtful comments, and realistic experiences.
While at the conference I gained a lot of insight and knowledge. I think the largest take away for me was to bring awareness to the trauma informed care (TIC) principles application within my organization. I work in primary care as a Behavioral Health Consultant. Within the medical community there has traditionally not been a trauma informed approach and I see across organizations that this is getting better and better. The learning that I had at the conference was a refresher on how important it is to really apply those principles, when we think about everything we do in our work. I am newer to my organization and so I have been learning the ways of a new system. After the conference, I felt a new vitality about the principles, with a lens for how to approach my administration and offer a training on the TIC principles for the organization. While this feels like a huge piece to take on, I am ready to offer it, as I know that when the principles are honored this allows for people to receive the excellent healthcare that they need and deserve. I also think that the employees within my organization will benefit, as the TIC principles apply to not only the people we serve but to the people providing the service.
The conference was very organized, well designed, and thought out fully. The self-care room was a delight, the food was endless, and the setting of the conference was serene. The artist that accompanied us could not have brought to life the conference in a more creative way. Honestly, the graphics at the end of the conference, along the entire main conference hall, were intricately designed.
I witnessed people’s voices being heard. I heard stories of deep pain and rich resilience. Some voices that stood out were those of children. For some reason this really got my attention. The children and mothers that shared their stories of being separated from one another due to incarceration, brought tears to many of our eyes. The bonds that these families have is incredible, as they endured an unimaginable separation from each other for an absurd amount of time. Their stories of reunification were beautiful and I was really encouraged by their vulnerability to share with us.
It was moving to hear what people are doing across our communities in Oregon. A leader from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs shared how she was a part of teaching young children traditional ways of their ancestors using specific edible native plants. Seeing these pictures of little ones outside in nature with large smiles looking for native wild plants was special. One workshop I attended highlighted a game that demonstrated how the trauma brain works and it was incredibly thought out. The creativity, cultural practices, and intelligent minds were noteworthy.
I left feeling emotionally filled and intuitively rejuvenated. Something that this conference brought out was how clear it is from across our communities that we all can come together, in pain and hope, to build a path that honors those that have come before us and offers insight to create change for the children of our future. I am so glad that I attended this conference and plan to again in the future. I am grateful to all those that facilitated, planned, and participated at the conference.