My son and his wife are expecting their first child this year. They asked extended family members to share advice on “caring for baby and one another”. My mother, who will soon turn 99, steadied her increasingly shaky hand to write just two things on a pink and white note card.
“Keep on schedule”
Reading it brought tears of gratitude. How fortunate I was to have parents that acted on those simple, powerful beliefs.
For almost two decades, I’ve provided a variety of consulting services for public health, behavioral health and other organizations. In that time, the concept of trauma informed care has been evolving. Gray Horse Strategies recently hosted our first workshop on this topic. The content was so valuable. It gave me new insights into how the victims of childhood trauma might experience life, even decades later.
In the CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study, two-thirds of participants reported having at least one adverse childhood experience: over one in five reported three or more ACEs. Although not all ACEs are equal, and not all individuals experience a particular event in the same way, ACEs can profoundly shape reactions, interactions, and lives. Understanding that and listening to one another’s stories without judgement can make a huge difference for the victim.
Our workshop leader, BJ Nichols, MSSW, LCSW, SUD, shared a key finding – a healthy relationship with at least one caring adult can greatly enhance protective factors and improve outcomes for those who have experienced trauma.
Today, as we watch the aftermath of the flooding in Texas and storms in Florida and islands to the south, we wonder how what has been learned from this relatively new science can inform recovery for the thousands whose lives have been shaken. How can we challenge ourselves to use a compassionate “trauma informed lens” to view one another? How might our communities be strengthened by better understanding of these dynamics?
There is hope for those who are carrying a heavy burden of trauma. And we all can be part of the answer by writing a simple note to ourselves, “Listen, really listen”.
To learn more:
1. Background on types and effects of trauma at https://www.samhsa.gov/trauma-violence
2. The ACEs Study at www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/about.html
3. Excellent reference work that is an accessible read - The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD
About the Author, Nancy Young - President, Gray Horse Strategies, LLC
Nancy Young has over 30 years of leadership experience in the public and private sectors. She founded Gray Horse Consulting in 2000, and in 2016 broadened service offerings through Gray Horse Strategies. She has a passion for working with organizations that are striving to do great work with limited resources, providing "Practical Solutions for the Public Good".