Sunday, February 10, 2008

Changes from Risking Connection® Training

Recently we have had the pleasure of providing a basic Risking Connection® training and then a Train-the-Trainers training at an agency that is committed to changing its treatment practices. The administration has started this change to a trauma-informed practice, and has demonstrated their commitment in many ways including attending all of the training. These methods represent a significant change for this agency, and in addition the agency is recovering from some significant problems and serious bad events in the past. At the basic Risking Connection® training, we decided that their first initiative was going to be to increase the frequency of trying to understand the adaptive function of a behavior before responding to it.

There was a three and a half month span between the original training and the Train-the-Trainers. We began the TTT by asking what changes people had observed during that time. Within three months they noticed:

There was a boy in the school who consistently went AWOL. When they stopped punishing this behavior and began to investigate it, the boy disclosed that he could not read. When he received targeted help from a staff member he trusted, the AWOL stopped.

A resident was being mean to another. Again, instead of punishing staff explored what was going on. He was finally able to share a humiliating experience he had at school.

They started a Student Advisory Board to give the students more voice.

Staff had been annoyed by a child who always hid under the tables at meals. They then noticed a pattern that he especially did this when others were loud and began fighting. They were able to offer him more reassurance at these times.

They had begun to involve the parents in investigating the meaning of their child’s behavior, and were getting a good response.

They noticed improved student-to-student relationships.

They were individualizing their approaches to the children.

Staff greeted kids returning from a runaway with "we are glad you are back and safe" instead of a lecture or description of their consequences.

Staff were tentatively beginning to discuss their vicarious traumatization reactions with each other.

In meetings more attention was being paid to the child’s history and trying to understand their behavior.

Staff were treating each other with more respect.

It is amazing and moving how profoundly our worlds can change once we begin to understand trauma and also become more self aware.

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