square bulletTrauma Informed Service Delivery in the African American Community

July 26, 2016

From Sahaan McKelvey, Program Manager of Family Stabilization Services Self Enhancement, Inc.

Self Enhancement, Inc.’s Service Delivery Approach

At Self Enhancement, Inc. (SEI) we provide a wide array of services to increase the capacity of our community to thrive. We provide services to everyone, but as the largest African American service provider in the state of Oregon it is our mission to provide culturally specific services to the African American community. The state of Oregon has a very unique and damaging history with regards to the treatment of African American citizens that dates back to the very foundation of the state. Given the generational trauma that African Americans have experienced in Oregon, it is very important to us at SEI that we deliver services to our community in a trauma informed way.

At SEI the backbone of our service delivery approach is relationships. Relationships are especially important to effectively delivering trauma informed services in the African American community because, through the history of slavery and racism in this country, relationships in the African American community were intentionally and generationally destroyed. The historical trauma that resulted from the systemic destruction of relational unity among African American populations may never be fully healed. However, the only way to effectively respond to this historical trauma, and develop resiliency in our community that allows for the beginning of healing to take place, is through the rebuilding of relationships.

Creating a Culture of Success with Fundamental Beliefs

At SEI we strive to create a Culture of Success that we use to envelop each and every person that we come in connection with. This Culture of Success is created through the lens of SEI’s key Fundamental Beliefs and the effective application of the SEI Relationship Model. There is nothing more important to SEI’s ability to be successful in serving the African American community in a trauma informed way than these two things. At SEI we have seven Fundamental Beliefs that are non-negotiable for anyone that represents our agency. These Fundamental Beliefs allow us to view our community through what we call, “SEI Eyes.” Because of these beliefs we are able to respond to any circumstance with compassion and authentic empathy. It is our Fundamental Beliefs that empower us to walk through any difficult situation hand in hand with the people that we are serving. The SEI Fundamental Beliefs are as follows:

  • All people can and will succeed.
  • All people have a gift.
  • When people are presented with options and exposure they will discover their purpose and realize their potential.
  • All people can learn.
  • We see people for who they can become rather than who they are today.
  • People develop best when surrounded by caring and nurturing people.
  • At SEI we are 100% responsible for the relationships that we build with people.

Building Trusting Relationships with Our Community

In addition to the Fundamental Beliefs, the SEI Relationship Model is paramount in our ability to build trusting relationships with our community. It is the relationships that we are able to create that allow us to effectively speak into people’s lives and empower them to build resiliency to overcome trauma and experience success. The SEI Relationship Model can be complex and the ability to apply it perfectly is a learning journey that all of us at SEI continuously travel. But in its simplest form the SEI Relationship Model consists of the ability to master three relational roles. These are the

  • Teacher Role: cherishing, self-esteem, encouragement, enthusiasm
  • Parent Role: accountability, consistency, love, approval
  • Mentor Role: inspiration, motivation, stimulation, refinement

The ability to move seamlessly and effectively in and out of these three roles in response to any relational situation allows SEI to fill these three relational gaps that have been created in the African American community through a history of struggle and oppression. It is our ability to effectively fill these gaps that builds resiliency in our community. Filling these gaps through the lens of the Fundamental Beliefs that we hold at SEI allows us to deliver services in a trauma informed way that our community can respond to. This builds trust and allows us at SEI to deliver effective services and generate successful results through the rebuilding of strong inter-communal relationships that allow for true community and belonging.

This is a short snapshot of how SEI emphasizes relationships to respond to the needs of our community in a trauma informed way. By enveloping our community in the Culture of Success that we are intentional about building, we are able to empower our community and inspire individuals to achieve stability through a culturally specific and holistic approach through advocacy, guidance, and services.