Trauma and Healing Informed Systems
There’s more than one mere splash when we drop a stone into a pond. Just as a voice echoes through the mountains, even a small stone generates little waves of expanding circles rippling through the water. From childhood trauma to historical and generational trauma, our human response to deeply disturbing or distressing events causes ripple effects of its own.
“To know where you are going, you first have to know where you have come from.”Inuit Proverb
An example of the process by which historical trauma continues to affect American Indian/Alaska Native youth today, according to A Mathematica Policy Research Report, is the long-term impact and generational impacts of trauma. A concept pioneered by Braveheart and Debruyn- historical trauma is a “legacy of chronic trauma and unresolved grief across generations.” The notion of those long-lasting effects of trauma, as well as the importance of trauma-informed care, at the core of the work of the National Native Children’s Trauma Center (NNCTC)- a supporting partner of the Tribal Youth Resource Center- the mission of which is to co-facilitate trauma-focused healing for Native Children, families, and communities. The work requires understanding, respect, and honoring of tribal sovereignty, specific community needs, and the use of traditional healing practices.
Why is it important that we understand the impact of trauma?
The National Native Children’s Trauma Center (NNCTC) notes that approximately 1 in 4 U.S. children will experience a significant traumatic event by age 16. Research suggests that Native American youth are at increased risk of trauma, depression, and PTSD as a result of grief and exposure to violence.
The ripples of exposure to trauma are evident in susceptibility to relationship problems, drug and alcohol abuse, violent behavior, suicide and depression, problems in school, and bullying and victimization, among numerous other long-range health and mental health concerns. Unfortunately, many systems intended to support and facilitate healing for our vulnerable youth have, instead, re-traumatized them, which is why our partnership with NNCTC is so vitally important.
Long before trauma-informed systems made their way to the mainstream field of human services, tribes have well understood the links between a supportive community environment and the wellbeing of their children and young people. The traditional cultural knowledge that guides the development of community supports in each tribal setting must be a vital part of healing and change.
Through our partnership the NNCTC is able to provide free training and technical assistance to OJJDP tribal grantees and other federally recognized tribes. Learn more about the available training by reviewing the NNCTC Training Menu.
This revolutionary process of trauma-informed systems:
- Acknowledges the impact of individual, intergenerational, and historical traumas on tribal youth and communities;
- Supports individual and community healing and resilience from the effects of traumatic stress;
- Reduces the risk of re-traumatization;
- Incorporates community, family, and individual youth input; and
- Integrates cultural wisdom into services and practices.
In addition to knowledge and skill building trainings, the National Native Children’s Trauma Center offers technical assistance and consultation in response to the needs and capacity of tribal partners to implement trauma-informed care, including, but not limited to:
- Assessing system readiness before implementing trauma-informed practices or treatments;
- Conducting trauma-informed organizational assessments and providing a thorough report on findings and recommendations;
- Building staff capacity through professional development such as instructional coaching, consultation with NNCTC staff, booster trainings, and progress monitoring;
- Reviewing policies and procedures of the organization and making recommendations to reflect trauma-informed practices;
- Conducting a walk-through of a program’s physical space and making recommendations to ensure the physical environment promotes physical and psychological safety for clients and staff;
- Evaluating the implementation process and/or the outcomes of treatment and practice implementation;
- Working with local, cultural experts to identify and determine fit and appropriateness of trauma-informed practices and treatment;
- Selecting and adapting trauma and resiliency screening tools and assisting with implementation;
- Choosing evidence-based trauma treatments and assisting with implementation; and
- Guidance and facilitation for on-site leadership teams.
Would you like your court or program to implement a trauma informed approach,
but you’re not sure where to start?
The National Native Children’s Trauma Center has developed a free self-assessment tool that can assist with identifying the areas of strength and needs related to a trauma informed approach. Upon completion of the self-assessment, a team member from the National Native Children’s Trauma center will contact you and provide a list of helpful training or technical assistance offerings that can benefit your program and community youth.