The last training for the 2016-2017 fiscal year was a two part series on trauma informed care for all of our Family Support Specialists (FSS) including Differential Response and Family Stabilization FSS staff. A large portion of the clients that our FSS serve often have experienced trauma. Our FSS act as the front line in prevention and a family’s lifeline in working towards stability. Understanding the physical and psychological effects of the trauma that they have experienced is crucial in responding and to serving clients.
Our presenter, Dr. Gregory Manning, presented the differences between the simple building blocks of a brain in a healthy emotional state and one experiencing emotional distress. The building blocks consist of the thinking, feeling, and reacting parts of the brain. Our clients experiencing emotional distress often have the thinking part of the brain inhibited, a negative relation to human interaction in the feeling part of the brain, and inadequate coping and soothing capacities due to a repetitive exposure to stressful situations. Clients showing signs of this behavior can be the most difficult to serve, however, they are the ones that need the support and community an FRC can provide! Understanding these symptoms of trauma and identifying them in our clients can help our FSS and FRC staff find new ways to make sure the client is present, participates in services, and ultimately receives the help they need.
Beyond understanding the effects and symptoms of trauma in clients, it is important to think about how we can start preventing the effects of trauma in children. Dr. Manning showed a TED Talk by Nadine Burke Harris that thoroughly explains the study on Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs. This study show us that trauma, like abuse and neglect, have a profound effect on an individual’s health over their full lifetime, yet it is one of the least talked about and under addressed public health issues facing our communities. Our Family Resource Centers play a key role in setting an example in and outside of our field of the kind of care that not only improves social conditions and the stability of families but also has an effect on a family’s overall health and wellbeing.
Finally, we learned of the importance of self- care when serving others. Secondary trauma, burnout, and compassion fatigue can ultimately debilitate us from helping families. FRC staff are often helping families through some of the most difficult times of their lives. Their stories and struggles can often have an effect on our staff. Indicators of secondary trauma include self-isolation, cynicism, mood swings, and irritability. We encourage you to actively address these issues by staying connected and finding support from you colleagues, friends and family, keeping the passion for your work alive and thriving, adopting new coping mechanisms, and through the power of humor and lightheartedness in your life and in your work. Examples from a self-care inventory list include:
- Physical self-care: exercising consistently, take vacations, make time away from phone
- Psychological self-care: make time for self-reflection, write in a journal, practice receiving from others
- Emotional self-care: give self-affirmations and praise, love self, maintain contact with valued others
- Spiritual self-care: spend time with nature, open to inspiration, meditate or pray
- Workplace or professional self-care: allow for breaks during the work day, set limits or boundaries with clients and/or colleagues, provide quiet time/space to complete tasks.
We hope all who attended gained new knowledge and enjoyed this training series!