Sunday, November 21, 2010

Update on My Travels

In October, my colleague Steve Brown and I taught both Risking Connection© and the Restorative Approach© to Child and Family Service of Hawaii. This excellent agency is especially interested in improving the services in their group homes for girls. They also have an array of other programs which will benefit from being trauma informed, such as domestic violence shelters and in home services. The staff was eager to learn and felt that this approach was exactly what they had been looking for. And this was the first training in which I was given two leis, one at the beginning and one at the end of the training.

I also did a Risking Connection© training with Dr. Kay Saakvitne in at Elmcrest Children’s Center in Syracuse, New York. I appreciated the staff there who had the courage to embrace change in their methods and appreciate the possibilities within trauma informed care. It was also a treat to teach with Kay, one of the original authors of Risking Connection©. I always learn a lot from her. One highlight of this training was the flock of wild turkeys outside the window of the room in which we were teaching. I guess they were also seeking some knowledge!

Two weeks ago I was an invited speaker at the Joint Commission and Joint Commission Resources Annual Behavioral Health Care Conference in Chicago. I was proud to share the stage with such notables as Pamela S. Hyde, JD, Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Amy Dworsky, PhD, Senior Researcher, Chapin Hall – University of Chicago; Paul Schyve, MD, Senior Vice President, The Joint Commission; David A. Litts, OD, Director, Science and Policy, Suicide Prevention Resource Center; Mark Katz, PhD, Director, Learning Development Services, Clinical and Consulting Psychologist; Kim Masters, MD, Medical Director, Three Rivers Midlands Campus Residential Treatment Center and Mary Cesare-Murphy, PhD, Executive Director, Behavioral Health Care, The Joint Commission. There was some very interesting information about the future directions of SAMHSA, the ramifications of health care reform for mental health. It was fascinating to hear the latest research and prevention efforts regarding suicide. The discussion of resiliency had some intriguing ramifications for treating trauma- the subject of another blog post.

I received many compliments on my presentation and had some good conversations with folks about what they are doing. And, the Joint Commission staff treated me so well!

Then last week Steve Brown and I travelled to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. We taught both Risking Connection© and the Restorative Approach© to the Child Assessment and Treatment Services of the Yukon government. Included in this group were staff from Residential Youth Treatment Services and Child Abuse Treatment Services (C.A.T.S.). Also participating were staff from Alcohol and Drug Services. First let me say that it is a long way from Connecticut to the Yukon Territory. And lost bags, delayed flights and phones that stop working do not help. But it was most certainly worth it all to work with these excellent treaters. Providers working in the Yukon deal with situations of multi-generational abuse, extreme poverty, long standing drug and alcohol use, and lack of resources. I was extremely impressed with their compassion for and commitment to their clients. Two social workers we have come to know each spent over a year living in (different) remote First Nation communities for over a year to get to know the people and their culture. In the residential programs, they never eject a child. If the child runs away, gets drunk, does anything, they are still welcome back. No one was focused on consequences and they did not use points and levels. All staff seemed immersed in understanding the adaptive nature of the behaviors, and could see clearly the pain beneath the behavior. We had many wonderful discussions within the training, and the staff eagerly soaked up our framework and methods as a way to organize their thinking and their work. Through the kindness of everyone towards us, we were able to explore some of the beautiful area surrounding the town, and even go cross country skiing. I look forward to our return in April for the Train the Trainer.

I am extremely fortunate that my work brings me to such diverse and beautiful places and introduces me to so many committed, caring and intelligent people.

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