Monday, April 12, 2010

Musing on a Busy Week

Last week I had a busy and exciting week.
On Tuesday Steve Brown and I presented at the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health Child & Adolescent Restraint/seclusion Prevention Initiative Grand Rounds. Our topic was: Transforming Resistance to Enthusiasm-Implementing Trauma Informed Care. Around 100 people attended, from hospital, residential and school settings. It was great to share ideas with others who are in various stages of implementing trauma informed care. As is often true, people seemed particularly concerned with how to overcome staff resistance to this change. We shared strategies such as: relating this theory to their own lives, celebrating every success, and having those who do it naturally teach others. We received many compliments of our presentation.

On Wednesday I attended a retreat of our Klingberg Therapeutic Foster Care Department. This staff is implementing trauma informed care for the entire department, including providing a six week training for the foster parents and more intensive training for the staff. Another component has been an increased focus of the experiences of the workers. This staff is on call for crisis 24 hours a day. They often have to experience the sadness and disappointments the adolescents endure. However, they also celebrate successes- six adoption this year! Their mission is to promote mutually claiming relationships and prevent disruptions. The trauma framework has helped make sense of some challenging behaviors, and enabled the parents to take them less personally and thus have more patience with the youth.

On Friday Steve Brown and I presented a workshop at the Massachusetts Adolescent Sex Offender Coalition Annual Conference. We spoke on a new topic: He Just Refuses to Take Responsibility!!! -- Implications of Trauma Theory on the Issue of Taking Responsibility. The phrase "taking responsibility" is used in all our programs, and I have written about it here before. However, it is central to sexual abuse treatment programs. We argued that it is helpful to see the word as response ability, and to realize that this is a skill not a characteristic. What can we do to build this capability in clients? This includes creating trustworthy attachments, teaching feelings skills, and most importantly reducing shame. The 70 or so workshop attendees participated in lively discussions of these concepts.

The conference itself was very interesting. The keynote speaker Cordelia Anderson was eloquent on the ways our culture sexualizes children and produces demand for child abuse, and she called us all to action in the prevention area. I attended a workshop by Phil Rich, PhD on ten things we think we know that we don’t, in which he pointed out how contradictory research can actually be on what really helps kids. Another workshop I attended led by Melissa Malter, MSW detailed a CBT approach to decrease shame.

All in all, a very worthwhile day. It was fun to have people coming up to me to say they saw us at the Grand Rounds or attended our conference in Worchester- our community is growing!

A very full week- and I must say I am glad to have less events scheduled this week!

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