square bulletEducation and Training: The First Essential Element of Trauma-Informed Care

From , LCSW, PhD, Director, Trauma Informed Oregon

In December I wrote about the 4 Essential Elements of trauma informed organizations or systems. The next several newsletters will cover a specific Essential Element, beginning with this newsletter’s focus on Education and Training. The ways in which all staff are provided knowledge and skills from the time of hire throughout the length of employment affect how trauma informed an organization is. Many of you have heard me talk about the “Who needs to know what by when” approach.

TIO’s Approach to Trauma Informed Education and Training

At TIO, we strive to build capacity by developing resources and tools to increase and diversify the voices talking about trauma informed care and healing focused practices. I wanted to jump right in and let you know what we are working on and invite you to meet new TIO staff who are allowing us to expand our work in exciting ways. Be on the lookout for:

  • Trauma Informed Foundations 2.0: Danielle Grondin has been working on a more evolved offering that expands content and includes best practices for adult learning.  (Also see Danielle’s request for your feedback in her blog post.)
  • We have heard the call for more “Train the Trainer” opportunities. As Foundations 2.0 rolls out, we will offer this again in the Fall with new material.
  • Steffannie Roache is working on TI Supervision offerings and BIPOC/Communities of Color-specific workforce retention practices.
  • Dalia Avello is developing materials for native Spanish speakers and offerings for children, youth, and families and those that work with them. Dalia’s work is focused on prevention strategies and psychoeducation.
  • We are also working on mapping out “who needs to know what by when.”

Do let us know what you need regarding training and education resources, or what you have to offer. We are striving to build resources that move us from knowledge to skills to embodiment.

Speaking of “embodiment,” I want to focus my thoughts today on how to have a trauma informed training. When we receive a request for training at TIO, I almost always request to speak to the person or organization. This of course takes more time, but I find it important to get a sense of what is needed. My first question is  “Why?” (some of you know this is my go-to question for most things 😉). Next is “What have you already done and how did it go?” Maybe you are wanting to build buy-in, or maybe you want to move into learning skills or supervision or implementation. Or maybe you want to get grounded in the body’s response to stress. Or maybe you need to fulfill a grant requirement. It is so important to me that we help meet your needs to evolve the work in a way that is not burdensome and is sustainable. And sometimes this means we recommend completely different training, or no training at all – at this time.

I have recently come to say that what I am sharing is an offering: an offering of information and experience, and it is the responsibility of those receiving this information to determine how to apply this in their work and communities.  When I am with you sharing information about TIC, I am in relationship with you. I prepare for every offering. I learn about your work and purpose to guide how best to bring this information forth. I experience the content with you by paying attention to not just what knowledge is delivered, but also whether you and your community are seen and heard in this offering. I am assessing both the physical and emotional or psychological environment. Do participants have access to nourishment and breaks and spaces to move about? Is the sound system loud enough, but not too loud? I always ask if the group has experienced any recent tragedy or event I need to know about. This is critical because we cannot teach about TIC without modeling the model, and if there is a harm or pain in the room I need to be able to address it. For example, I showed up for a training recently, and a few minutes before I was to begin I was informed staff had just received tragic news. I regulated myself, co-regulated with the person I was presenting with, and then threw out the agenda and held space for all the feels – in other words, we didn’t train on TIC but instead did TIC.

A friend and colleague, Dr. Karen Treisman, and I talk often about how important it is that we are practicing the values of TIC when we are teaching about TIC. A part that is often neglected happens before the training begins. How are participants invited into the learning? Do people know why they are attending and what to expect and what will be expected from them? Dr. Treisman has a lovely resource about this – consenting to be there, to participate, and making sure there is choice.

As we evolve from knowledge to skill to transformative, embodied trauma informed practices, we strive for our teaching, learning, and training to model the model.  As TIO has new voices and offerings, do let us know how we are doing modeling the model and meeting needs.

Learning By Listening

To complement discussion of TIO’s approach to the first Essential Element, Education and Training, I want to talk about multiple ways of learning. One of the most important methods is to listen to others’ experiences. In this newsletter, we have a few different opportunities to learn from others:

  • I was honored and humbled to MC the 2nd Day of Empathy 2022 hosted by the Family Preservation Project and Dream Corps Justice. We were asked to imagine “a world, without prisons; a world that centers care and not punishment in addressing harm.” This event was an amazing opportunity: to learn from, listen to, and dream with justice-impacted activists.
  • Explore this report by Christy da Rosa from TIO and Veyda Hernandez and Cristy Muñoz from United Way Columbia Willamette about the Disaster Resilience Learning Collaborative (DRLC). The DRLC vision is to advance equitable disaster resilience through healing-centered, culturally grounded collaborations and actions.
  • Celeste Peralta from The Next Door Inc. in Hood River, Oregon teaches us how they used the radio to provide community members, especially the Latinx community, with detailed information regarding the COVID pandemic, safety guidelines, COVID testing, vaccine resources, and mental health. Read more to learn about Radio Dramas in Español or English.
  • Eva Dech, a long-time human rights activist and trainer, shares how those doing TIC “should know the hard-fought history of the peer movement and why the continued challenges of co-optation and erasure are such pressing matters to many.”

TIO Updates

  • NEW STAFF!!! I could not be more excited to introduce you to new staff at TIO. All of these amazing people have been working with TIO on projects over the years, and have now joined the staff. With these talents we will be evolving ways for you to train up and skill up colleagues, step up workforce retention and health supports, and elevate prevention efforts.
  • FIDELITY is coming. We will begin pilots this summer and hope to have a final product by early Fall.

To Do

Want to hang out? I will be on the road in June and July and would love to come visit to hear what is going on or to provide information, training, or support. Send us a note.