Trauma can take many forms. Usually, it is described as a “traumatic event,” a situation that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope. But there’s so much more.
A brief look at essential components of trauma-training
Trauma can take the form of chronic stress over time, or as a single event that is life-dominating.
Often, trauma impacted individuals face neurological consequences and manifest hypervigilance or dissociative behavior. Trauma can alter brain chemistry and leave individuals in brain states often perceived as illogical to the onlooker. It can also be life debilitating to the point of post-traumatic stress, which can be chronic.
Professionals who deal with trauma-impacted individuals often experience secondary trauma due to the exposure to successive traumatic events. When you think of first responders, medical trauma center staff, social workers, military personnel, hospice workers, or any professional dealing with violence or similar events, it can be very difficult to experience trauma second-hand on an everyday basis.
When you consider the severity of impact experienced by those who are typically in need of trauma training, it really does place such training in a different category.
Unfortunately, trauma is highly pervasive, intense, emotional, and life impacting.
The behavior of trauma-impacted individuals can be unpredictable, erratic and illogical whether the trauma is recent or in the past. Trauma is a deeply emotional experience and subject with significant obstacles that vary from person to person.
When providing trauma-training at Lakeside we believe there have to be specific different and distinctive standards. We just cannot provide workshops that convey information alone, but rather present a very sensitive and respectful process of learning and growth that will help individuals deal with trauma in their lives. As opposed to going to a brief “how-to” seminar, trauma training needs to have depth in light of the nature of trauma itself.
Here are some key components to effective trauma training.
Safety – Trauma training makes sure the environment of training is safe. This pertains to both the physical environment and moreso, the emotional climate on the training sessions. There needs to be no judgment. Instead an environment of unconditional acceptance, whole class support, understanding and sensitivity to how information is presented must be in force so as to not re-traumatize any individual in the class.
Process-Oriented – We have found that individuals who are just beginning to understand trauma need to experience their own processes. As they read, learn and undergo a new lens for how trauma impacts individuals around them, it takes some time to absorb the principles, concepts and depth of impact that trauma can have on someone as well as on them personally.
It is a bit of “shock and awe” how impactful trauma can be in their lives, in the lives of their families, and the lives of others in their spheres of influence.
Respectful – The subject of trauma demands deep respect. When speaking about trauma, it becomes glaringly apparent the subject is deep, complex and diverse. The neuroscience of trauma is far-reaching, and it appears the more one learns about trauma, the more complex it becomes to understand.
Our experience shows those who are trained in trauma realize how much more they need to know no matter how much training they have received. It is humbling to recognize the significant role one has to help people who have been trauma-impacted.
Congruency – We have a concept called “Congruent Parallel Process.” This pertains to our trainers who act as actual mentors to their participants and demonstrate how we listen, communicate and process trauma. In other words, our trainers teach participants by example and instill the same principles, values, concepts and skills of trauma care that participants should use with those they touch that are trauma-impacted.
Research-based – Our trauma training is based on the most current neurological and psychological research. Therefore, updating our training is an ongoing process because advances in the research occur continuously, and we need to provide new opportunities for better understanding of what is going on in the perception and lives of trauma-impacted individuals.
There is so much more I could say but I think it becomes clear that trauma training is not just a normal well-prepared set of presentations.
Rather trauma-training is a significant process in which our current standards for trainers need to be elevated to the level of the complexity, seriousness and depth that the subject matter and victims of trauma deserve.
If done correctly, it is therapeutic, healing, and hopeful. We not only want our participants to have the best trauma information, but also we want them to be equipped with the sophisticated knowledge and skills to help trauma-impacted individuals with the right level of care.
Trauma is such a serious and life-dominating issue that it demands a very intentional process of care and support even in how we train.
Trauma training is an enormous and vital need for all those who encounter, relate to and serve trauma-impacted individuals. It is too important an issue for us to treat as just any topic. Rather, we should give it the respect and sophistication that mirrors the seriousness of its impact on our children, families and other individuals who have been victimized by trauma.
At Lakeside, we are committed to an extensive and unique process of training our trainers to maintain all of our values in each of our trauma courses.
It is the only way we can guarantee an appropriate level of training while caring for those who are in the professional field of trauma. We so appreciate our trainers and have witnessed their incredible positive impact in thousands of lives.
It is a true privilege to serve our community of trauma-impacted children and adults by equipping those who serve them with a depth of training that will provide true hope for lasting healing.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network