I continue to hear about different trauma training programs emerging because of the changing priorities towards our systems of care and the need for professionals to be properly trained to handle what they will encounter. Yet, becoming trauma-informed is complex, unlike the training for a specific skill that can be transferred with a brief session.
The very nature of trauma precludes it from being a once-and-done type of training.
Yes, we can acknowledge that trauma is pervasive. We can talk about high ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) scores and their impact on health, emotions, and relationships. We can discuss brain states and varied unhealthy coping mechanisms that trauma-impacted individuals typically use. We can even characterize the many types of trauma that contribute to intense issues that people face each day.
But those facts—as complex as they are—just touch the surface of what is going on in the brain and psyche of someone who has been traumatized.
We are still learning the nuances of trauma’s impact on the brain.
Yet, the approaches to help trauma-impacted individuals have to take into consideration diverse multi-dimensional issues:
- The type of trauma
- The repetitive nature of the trauma
- How sensitive someone may be to specific forms of trauma
- The family dynamics involved
- The many possible ways that an individual may be responding to the specific trauma
- The way others in one’s life are impacted
- What messages are sent to the trauma-impacted individual
And what about the strategies to deal with trauma?
So often, we have utilized cognitive counseling approaches. But the problem often lies with the fact the individual is not in the cognitive part of their brain. So the person is unable to comprehend typical “talk” types of therapy.
That fact alone makes treatment very complicated. Frequently, we find individuals need more somatosensory types of regulation activities so they can become regulated enough to comprehend what a therapist may be attempting to discuss.
Moreover, a huge caution dictates we all have to be careful about our approach so we do not re-traumatize the person. The lens, sensitivity, different language, neurology, unique personality, compassion, creativity in therapeutic approaches, and so much more are all part of the understanding that we must have in order to deal effectively with trauma-impacted individuals.
So what kind of training teaches you all of this?
Good question! It is most certain that a one-day seminar (or even a week) of training is not adequate.
It is not merely there is a lot to know or a lot to discuss and process. There also needs to be continual feedback while dealing with traumatized individuals so the trainee gets the comprehensive support and guidance needed to be trauma-competent.
One thing we have come to realize as we have trained thousands of professionals is that we must approach this issue with humility and compassion.
Even though Lakeside has some broad overview courses that teach basic trauma information, we make it clear that this type of brief training is only a beginning.
We have a great deal of respect for the whole subject of trauma.
Therefore, we offer almost a year of training, every other week, in order for someone to become trauma-competent. Significant and compelling is the more we teach, the more our participants want to learn because they quickly discover there are always new facts and processes to learn and understand in order to bring hope and healing to trauma-impacted individuals.
Trauma is both pervasive and complex.
It fits no formulas for healing, and it takes a great deal of time to overcome its impact. We hope that in all we do as a trauma training organization, we will be diligent to be comprehensive, neurologically sophisticated, and deeply compassionate in both what we train and how we train those who are valiantly dealing with trauma-impacted individuals.
It’s not easy but incredibly worthwhile.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside