From Mandy Davis, LCSW, PhD, Director, Trauma Informed Oregon*
It is Fall, and I am excited to share about what TIO has been up to and what is coming. Our Fall newsletter is focused on feedback, an Essential Element of Trauma Informed Care. I’ll begin with some thoughts on feedback, then follow up with additional blogs and TIO news and updates.
Strategies for Incorporating Trauma Informed Values Into Feedback
Feedback is a critical component of a trauma-informed (TI) environment because it helps us know how we are doing and how we can do better for ourselves and those we work alongside. It can also be unsettling or scary to give and receive feedback. Trauma Informed Oregon talks about our work at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and the operational/organizational levels and the intersections among them. Applying this work to feedback means thinking of how we request feedback about ourselves, our relationships, and our work practices. Notice how each of these levels of care is addressed in the other Trauma Informed Oregon blogs posted this month.
Feedback happens in both formal and informal ways, from non-verbal cues, surveys, focus groups, and annual work assessments, to our smart devices that tell us how active we have been or how effective our sleep cycle was. But what makes our feedback practices trauma informed? There is no one way, and I look forward to hearing how you have incorporated TI values into feedback strategies. Here are some considerations as you assess and develop your practices.
takes into account a person’s history with feedback;
is regular, expected, and normalized,
is kind, direct, and informative,
is thoughtful and given enough time,
is regularly evaluated and evolves with feedback,
is growth-oriented versus punitive,
considers the role of power,
and incorporates cultural strengths.
It’s important to note that TI feedback is not void of emotions and the goal is not to have everyone feel happy. The goal is for people to have clear and accurate information so we can learn and evolve. The goal in a TI feedback process is to Realize how feedback has been harmful, Recognize how this experience shows up in relationships and Respond using this knowledge with a consistent and funded plan that Resists traumatization.
The feedback I am focused on in this moment is at the intrapersonal level. How do you know how you are? Do you check in with your body? Do you ask others? Do you take a survey? Measure your heart rate variability? And can you share your findings with those you work with? This is so important to me because we are often in roles that influence or make significant impacts in others’ lives. And though we do not need to be our best self all the time, I do believe we need to be honest with how we are and how this may impact our work. For example, maybe you don’t make a big decision after a poor night of sleep, or maybe you have someone support you in a meeting when you are having a hard time focusing because the topic under discussion is close to home for you.
I believe that in TI spaces, it would be typical to hear phrases such as:
“I am going to need a minute to check in with how that feels in my body…”
“I am struggling to be present right now – can we reconvene in an hour?”
“I had a rough night – I am here but may need some prompts to engage.”
“I am not in a good headspace at the moment, but would like to hear this when I am.”
“I am not well right now. You don’t need to do anything, but I want to be able to name that here.”
“I have a lot of big feelings around this topic. I may need to pace myself.”
“I need to know we are on the same page before I feel safe enough to discuss this.”
So as I leave this collection of thoughts (a reframe for rambling ;-)), reflect on a few things:
What about trauma and toxic stress impacts giving and receiving feedback?
What qualities in a relationship are needed for you to receive feedback?
How do you keep yourself open to feedback and self-growth?
How do you know if you are feeling open or closed when receiving feedback?
How do you soften feedback that brings up emotions?
What conditions do you need in the workplace to be able to self-reflect?
*Appreciation to TIO staff who added their thoughts on these reflective questions.
Check Out These Blogs About the Essential Element “Feedback”
Using Implementation Tools as Feedback Processes
Aliza Tuttle, Project Manager for the Human Services Implementation Lab (I-Lab) at Portland State University, compares the example of tracking of gardening progress over time to the development of the Trauma Informed Care Organizational Assessment.
Unsolicited Feedback: A Birthing Experience
Danielle Grondin, Instructional Designer for Trauma Informed Care, Trauma Informed Oregon, describes her successful strategy to avoid medical re-traumatization during her experience giving birth in a hospital environment.
A Personal Message to the TIO Community
Dalia Avello-Vega, Lecturer at Portland State University’s College of Instruction, provides an update on her transition from Trauma Informed Oregon to a new project in Scotland!
What We Have Been up to (and Are Excited About)
Since we last communicated in this way we have been out and about. I spent an amazing week in Malheur County with the Malheur County Prevention Coalition. We held a community event and then visited with programs to hear what is working and what is needed. Hearing this is so helpful and impactful to my work.
We’ve completed 3 “Training of Trainers” cohorts for: college instructors, criminal legal system workers, and public health workers.
The Implementation Tool is live and being used. TIO is working to provide resources to help organizations move forward using the tool. It is a helpful framework for sustaining this work. TIO continues to collaborate with the I-Lab to implement trauma informed care with organizations globally.
We launched a TI Supervision series, which met capacity. Thanks to all who registered.
In alignment with the theme of this quarter’s newsletter, we have launched a new Community Feedback Hub where you can provide your thoughts on how we can critically assess our methods, disrupt processes that are not working, and align with community needs.
Register for December “Nourish the Network” Events
We Are Excited to Have Dr. Ingrid Anderson Join the Trauma Informed Oregon Team!
Ingrid Anderson, Ed.D. is an Associate Professor of Practice supporting Trauma Informed Oregon and coordinating the Infant Toddler Mental Health Graduate Certificate and the Indigenous First Steps Project at Portland State University. She holds a Master’s in Conflict Resolution and Peaceable Schools from Lesley University.
As an early childhood educator and researcher, she studies the emotions of working in early childhood education. For the past 30 years, Ingrid has worked as a classroom educator, director, administrator, and now a university professor thinking about how we find our purpose in our work.
I am pursuing a graduate degree in social work at Portland State University. My background is in homeless services and school social work, and my interests include youth-led advocacy, as well as community-driven safety, healing, and mutual aid. I am always looking for book recommendations! Currently I am reading “When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir” by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele. (Pronouns: they/them.)
Welcome Christian to the TIO Team!
I’m excited and honored to have the opportunity to learn as I partner with y’all to advance the important work underway at TIO! I grew up and completed my undergrad in Southern California, earning a degree in Psychology, before moving to Southern Oregon to begin work in community-based mental health. Since moving here, I’ve had the pleasure of partnering with folks throughout the state while working in both outpatient and residential treatment settings before joining the RRI as a student employee. Engagement with a variety of exciting research projects inspired a transition from the clinical to the macro MSW track, and I’m thrilled to complete the final year of the program involved in such important work! When I’m not stress-sweating about school, I love exploring the outdoors, spending time with my marvelous Mini-poodle Miles, and staring at my plants.
Action Items for Our Community
Give Your Thoughts with Our New Community Feedback Hub
Trauma Informed Oregon is thrilled to invite you to share your thoughts on how TIO can improve its work. With our new Community Feedback Hub, you can provide your input via surveys that will help us to critically assess our methods, disrupt processes that are not working, and help TIO align with community needs.
We want you to get notified when we add our new event offerings! We’ll send out a notice for our 2024 events next month to folks who are registered for our main newsletter list as well as the new Events list, but in the future we’ll send more focused events emails to those registered to the Events list. (Make sure you leave the “Send me TIO’s events and trainings emails” box checked when you complete the signup form.)