We were pleased to note that members of our SaintA team recently were recognized in the Instructor Forum, a quarterly publication put out by the Crisis Prevention Institute, (CPI). Therapist Chris Kangas, Jeff Stephani, who heads our Transitions Therapeutic School, and Tim Grove, Chief Clinical Officer, presented a case study in which the neurosequential model of therapeutics (NMT™) tools were used in case planning.
“The customized care approaches highlighted in their presentation emphasized the expertise built through comprehensive, tailored staff development,” the publication said.
The article went on to note how we weave “threads of relevant theoretical models into staff training to pattern cultures of care that are respectful of client needs and challenges.” It said we are also “aware of the complexities involved which have to be considered together with the most appropriate learning progression for staff.”
With a dedicated team of five trainers, we really strive to ensure that our staff receive quality training. And we are really pleased to get such acknowledgement because it serves to spread the word about how this training results in daily practices that can change the lives of those we serve and bring about healing.
While NMT, the creation of Dr. Bruce Perry and the ChildTrauma Academy, is targeted toward clinicians, at SaintA, we require all our staff – from therapists to maintenance staff and cooks – to attend several trainings yearly that explain our philosophy and practice of trauma informed care. We do this because we believe that all our staff will come in contact with the children we serve from time to time, and it is important for them to understand, at a very basic level, why they are our clients, what we hope to achieve with them, and how best to interact with them on an understanding, compassionate level.
All new employees must attend a training introducing them to trauma informed care, then of the other trainings required (based on job descriptions), offerings include sessions on each of what we call our Seven Essential Ingredients of trauma informed care. One of those is caregiver capacity, which we stress because we know that in working with troubled children and families, secondary trauma and burnout is an all-too common occurrence. So, we train our staff on self-care, so they can be better caregivers. In that vein, we recently began offering restorative yoga sessions for staff during the lunch hour.
And we not only train our staff. Last year we trained more than 1,000 members of the community in trauma informed care. Participants ranged from others in the human services field to educators, medical staff and individuals in law enforcement.
As research and knowledge on the brain and the effects toxic stress have on behavior expand, we will continue to revise and tailor our trainings. But an anecdote perhaps serves to explain why one of our seven essentials – perspective shift – is so important for all our staff to understand.
Several years ago, before we practiced trauma informed care as intensely as we do now, one of the boys who was new to our residential unit would pull fire alarms when he got upset. This happened several times in a frigid January. A new staff person was so angry about having to go outside, often without having the time to get a coat, that she considered quitting the job she had just started and really liked. She later learned about the boy’s background and the terrible abuse he had experienced before joining us.
“I felt really guilty about my feelings then,” she told me. “When I learned in a training about perspective shift, and went from wondering, What is wrong with you? to What has happened to you?, I got it.
“Having to stand outside for three minutes without a coat was nothing compared to the trauma this kid had suffered. That really did it for me.”
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