Sunday, March 11, 2012

Improved Advocating through Risking Connection Training

We did a consultation this week with an agency that received both the basic and train-the-trainer Risking Connection training. They have proceeded to roll out their own training and have experienced major changes in their culture. They particularly emphasized how important their new awareness of vicarious traumatization had become. Staff have been saying that they feel more committed to the organization than ever now that they regularly have a place to share the effects of the work on themselves as people.
They also mentioned something I hadn’t thought of before. They felt that they were much better advocated for their clients now that they understood the trauma framework, the concept of symptoms as adaptations, and what helps trauma survivors heal.
This is really true. First, by understanding brain science and the effects of trauma, treaters can become more articulate in describing why punishment is not the best response to problem behaviors. They can describe how making amends can teach the youth hope in relationships, and how learning skills can help him be less likely to repeat the behavior. By understanding the behavior and the need the youth was trying to meet, they can recommend a specific intervention which will help the youth learn to meets his needs in a more positive way. They are more confident because their ideas are grounded in a theoretical framework.

Often when people think of “doing trauma work” they mean that the youth is retelling the details of her traumatic experiences. Through understanding both the trauma framework and modern brain science treaters can explain the benefits of other areas of treatment. It is NOT TRUE that recreational activities, fun events, creative pursuits such as music and art, cooking, and relaxing with others are just time fillers in between the “real therapy” that happens in the clinician’s office. Using the trauma framework treaters can specify exactly what step in healing each activity is designed to accomplish. Changing the child’s template about relationships, re-building her brain, increasing her sense of self-worth and teaching feeling skills are all happening during these every day parts of life. When a treatment team is well trained they can describe and document each step of the day by describing its connection to healing.
Another area of advocacy is speaking up for the services a child will need after being discharged from your program. The trauma frame work gives treaters specific justification for gradual transitions, as few changes as possible, continuity of relationships post discharge (with boundaries), support services for biological and foster parents, special education, and respite/mentoring.

What other ways has learning about trauma improved your advocating for your clients? Please click “comment” below and let me know.

1 comment:

Stephan Friedrich said...

thank you for this article! It is reassuring. I also believe that 'doing trauma work' is not about 'debriefing' that can sometimes only serve to emphasise traumatic neural pathways. It cannot be done without connection. I recently reflected on the importance of building shared experience and a safe connection with traumatised children, after an interaction with a child I worked with here in Australia. please check it out here: