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Friday Feature 9.15.2017
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The Center for START Services
Sharing an article today about Trauma Informed Care that may reflect career beginnings and transitions  that many of you in our network have experienced.
"We have to view behaviors as a language and not as the root problem. We have to become trauma-informed to truly create a safer, healthier and balanced society for future generations to come."

Trauma Informed Practice: Better Late Than Never

by Matt Barnes, MSW, RSW
Picture of adolescent boys standing together arm and arm looking at a residential center
I was 21 years old, fresh out of University and had taken a position as a Child and Youth Worker at a boys group home. After my first day on the job, my roommates were shocked to hear that I had spent the better part of my day protecting myself from being stabbed with a protractor and dodging flying bricks from a wildly out of control 13 year old. I had physically restrained him over a dozen times and at the end of the day, I left exhausted and doubtful that I had a future in this field.

The training I had received focused on behavioral management techniques as many group homes at that time operated as token economies. In reality, this meant that a great deal of focus from staff was connected to the behaviors that the children/adolescents exhibited. If they presented with positive, desirable behaviors, they would be rewarded by moving up a level, or receiving some form of token reinforcement. In turn, if they exhibited undesirable or negative behaviors, they would lose tokens, privileges, control, and status.


It wasn’t until several years later that I began to understand the shortcomings of this model when used in isolation. I was working in the Yukon Territory in a similar setting but had now been trained in ‘Trauma Informed Care’. The children/adolescents in both settings had many similarities despite ethnic, geographical and social differences. They presented with a pervasive pattern of emotional dysregulation, they had problems with attention, concentration, and impulse control, and for the most part, they struggled with getting along with themselves and others.

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Thanks for reading and happy Friday,

The Center for START Services

 
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Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire