Trauma & Resiliency Training & Services at SCCC
–by Dr. Kim Cookson, Director of Trauma & Resiliency Training & Services
Any negative life event occurring in a state of relative helplessness – a car accident, the sudden death of a loved one, a frightening medical procedure, a significant experience of rejection – can produce the same neurological changes in the brain as do combat, rape, or abuse. What makes a negative life event traumatic isn’t the life-threatening nature of the event, but rather the degree of helplessness it engenders and one’s history of prior trauma.
–Dr. Robert Scaer, neurologist
WHAT IS TRAUMA?
Trauma surrounds us and sometimes engulfs us. Trauma occurs when the nervous system is overwhelmed by an actual or perceived threat. There is a wide spectrum of experiences that can be traumatizing: from a car accident, assault, war, to childhood experiences of abuse and neglect. People can be traumatized by medical procedures, natural disasters, bullying or witnessing violence. The effects of trauma are very apparent in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but unprocessed trauma impacts people in many ways and can lead to difficulty in relationships, health problems, and hypervigilance in daily living. Extreme states of depression, withdrawal, anxiety, panic, and aggression can be caused by unprocessed trauma. Addressing underlying trauma is important because when trauma is processed, resilience grows. When trauma is processed, people can embody their fullest and most productive selves.
Trauma and stress take a toll on our ability to manage the challenges of daily living. We wind up reacting to problems in automatic and unproductive ways when we are depleted. Learning tools that support the building of resilience helps to mitigate the effects of stress and trauma. When we practice these tools and experience the ability to move from emotional overwhelm to emotional resilience, we wind up in the position of being able to navigate life’s problems coming from our best selves instead of coming from emotionally reactive states.
HOW IS SCCC RESPONDING?
The Trauma and Resiliency Training and Services (T&RT&S) Program takes a multi-pronged approach to the treatment of trauma. T&RT&S focuses on building resilience and on processing trauma. We teach Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and the somatically based Trauma Resource Model from the Trauma Resource Institute (TRI). Both models have components for building resilience as well as the direct treatment of trauma. Meditation and relaxation techniques are also explored as other tools for emotional balance.
SCCC’s T&RT&S program, established in 2012, is focusing on creating a center-wide trauma-informed lens that incorporates the supporting and enhancement of resilience. The Community Resiliency Model (CRM) from TRI is now a requirement for all counselors in their first year of training. This community focused biological model teaches about the impact of trauma on thoughts, feelings, behaviors, the body and the spirit. It teaches about survival responses, the “Resilient Zone” and ways for people to build resilience through learning tools that allow them to increase their emotional regulation. We have seen the empowering results that occur when people learn ways to handle emotional overwhelm.
The Outreach Program at SCCC now conducts trauma-informed anger management groups in Watts through collaboration with the Watts Labor Community Action Committee. Here CRM skills are woven into the open dialogue of the group, which focuses on the challenges that group members are facing in their lives, their communities and in dealing with a system that is disempowering.
SCCC provides trauma treatment services through individual therapy with a trauma trained counselor and through trauma trained counselors consulting with ongoing therapists. Counselors have treated traumas ranging from assault, car accidents, phobias, medical traumas, to bullying and childhood abuse. See the video below for more information regarding the SCCC’s T&RT&S Program.
This program is supported by generous individual donors and foundations.