December 5, 2019

From Ana Hristić, MA, LCSW, Training and Education Coordinator, Trauma Informed Oregon

In reflecting on the conference with a friend, I noted that one way to measure a successful completion of a large project, like putting on a conference, is whether or not the team still feels unified and friendly at its conclusion. With that as the marker, I would call the conference a BIG success :)

Here are a few of my favorite things about the conference and accompanying reflections.

Foundations of Trauma Informed Care (TIC) pre-conference training

I had the pleasure of co-facilitating the Foundations curriculum with Charlie McNeely, a friend and colleague. I was reminded of the richness of the experience of co-facilitation, especially relative to the topic at hand. The inclusion of multiple perspectives, expertise, and lived experience is very valuable to both the trainers and the participants. Ironically, I was delighted that attendance was relatively low, for this Foundations pre-conference workshop, as compared to the Implementation of Trauma Informed Care workshop. Though it may have been as a result of many factors including people’s scheduling needs, the one that I elevated in my mind was that people have moved beyond Foundations :) While I recognize that the need for education of the preliminary concepts in TIC will likely always remain, I was also refreshed by the possibility that participants of the conference were excited to sink their teeth into the nuances of application of TIC, beyond the Foundations curriculum.

Wellness Room

I was invited to facilitate the setting up of the Wellness Room, a space for refuge and restoration. For one of the days, we invited Katherina Alexandre to share some of her craft activities, including the creation of a nature scape and sending of gratitude cards. The other days, we equipped the room with noise canceling headphones, drums, puzzles, stress ball making kits, and aromatherapy activities. After consultation with several colleagues and friends of TIO, we setup the Wellness Room schedule such that it invited for use by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) only at certain times. The importance of why people of color need spaces without white people is unpacked further in this article, and the feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive!

Lived Experience Voice

Both the I Am M.O.R.E. and Family Preservation Project events were the highlight of the conference for me. When training on different topics related to TIC, we always invite participants to broaden their lens on what we mean by trauma and resilience, but it’s not until we actually include lived experience voice that these concepts of come alive! Each of the presenters shared their stories of terror, alienation, and trauma, as well as stories of liberation, integration, and wellbeing. They invited all to participate with them with attention and consequent intention, so that we each recall “the why” of this work and as we work toward system change we are enriched and supported by their lived experience.

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A week after the conference, I was lucky enough to facilitate a regional Train the Trainer (TT) in Eugene, OR. Lane County Health & Human Services sponsored the TT experience for both its internal trainers and community partners. Over three days we unpacked the curriculum, explored facilitation best practices, and began to examine how the cohort can work together to meet the needs of the Foundations training for Lane County.

The cohort will continue to receive technical assistance and support from its local Trauma Healing Project. The collaboration and mutual enrichment was palpable for us all.