People who experience, witness, and are exposed to abuse and violence tend to have traumas. As these individuals seek help and support, advocates, law enforcement, and those working in the courts, among others likewise absorb the trauma. Trauma Informed Practice acknowledges the presence of trauma in both the victims/survivors as well as the people working with them to process and heal from the trauma. This webinar explores trauma and what can be done to effectively work through and address it for both victims/survivors and those in the helping professions.
This session’s instructor is Alejandro Palacios, the National Advocacy Leadership Center Manager for the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA). Prior to this role, he also served as a victim advocate for the Office of Victim Services at the Arizona Department of Corrections where he led the Victim Offender Dialogue Program between victims/survivors and their offenders.
Specifics of his discussion covered:
- What trauma is and how being trauma-informed is critical in exploring the different forms and manifestations of trauma that is unique to each individual.
- Unpacking the three parts of the brain and the roles of each in how traumatic events play out and how humans respond to trauma.
- How a basic understanding of the neurobiology of trauma allows those working with victims/survivors better cater to their needs and understand their decisions and response.
- The function of mirror neurons in recognizing emotions in others and establishing empathy.
- The characteristics of trauma response and how it impacts victims’/survivors’ outcomes and their ability to verbalize their experience and subsequently process the trauma and heal.
- The correlation between healing and triggers.
- How trauma-informed practice is a whole-person and collaborative concept that moves from a deficit-based and problem-focused to a strength-based approach that aims to address past trauma.
- Adopting the trauma-informed framework for victim/survivor-facing agencies that recognizes how the legal system and related services can be traumatizing.
- Recognizing factors that serve as barriers to victims’/survivors’ access to services and what service providers can do to encourage help-seeking.
- A list of the different coping strategies – both healthy and unhealthy that survivors/victims as well as those in helping professions may adopt to manage trauma.
- The importance of non-judgment of the coping mechanisms used to navigate victims’/survivors’ unique situations and focusing on establishing physical and emotional safety before getting them to let go of unhealthy coping strategies and adopting healthy ones.
- The reality of trauma survivors in terms of their experience of trauma, assessing for threats and dangers, and processing and healing from trauma.
- Individual and collective trauma – what they are, how these happen, and where these can be seen.
- The emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual impact of trauma.
- The feel wheel: How articulating our feelings aid in processing emotions and healing through trauma.
- How recognizing the gaps in services available can allow agencies to come up with initiatives to better serve victims/survivors.
- How those serving the victims/survivors need to develop an individualized self-care plan to safeguard themselves from the adverse impact of vicarious/secondary trauma.
Questions raised by webinar attendees are about:
- How people can have different reactions to the exact same situation.
- The concept of fawn as an addition to the fight-flight-freeze response.
- Differentiating self-care from self-comfort.
- Trainings that are recommended to be incorporated into agencies as part of trauma-informed practice.
- The correlation between trauma and PTSD diagnosis.
- Ways to prevent victims/survivors re-traumatization in case of discontinued services/resources.
Resources and Handouts
- “Trauma-informed care and empathetic leadership are a must. Trauma is a pivotal force, and it must be recognized as such. We must continue to challenge narratives that dismiss and invalidate traumatic experiences.” — Rawda
- “I have participated in many trainings for trauma. This training was concise, well thought out, and very informative. Love the Feel Wheel. I am a probation officer – for twenty years. Many of my clients have experienced the police, family, friends, military police, superior non-commissioned officers and commissioned officers, etc who did not believe them because they “changed their stories”. That experience is just as bad as the individual’s initial trauma. Thank you.” — Robyn
- “This was very informative! Able to see from this lens a world that no one knows exists unless you are a victim or have been in some sort of service agency or law enforcement. Great webinar!!” — Dale
- “Understanding a new Term, “Fawn”. I had not heard this before and I believe that having a label for that behavior makes sense, especially for those who have been dealing with trauma. Also the feel wheel slide, I have been using the self-care wheel with families for some time, but having these resources help when engaging in discussions with family members. Thank you!” — Antonica
- “I appreciate the information on the biology of trauma and how to help a survivor to understand their reaction is normal, and self-care vs. self-comfort.” — Charlene
- “Loved the feelings wheel.” — Cheryl
- “The presenter was amazing! He presented this material in a way I haven’t heard before. I’m glad I attended and I’ll definitely use what I learned today. Thank you.” — Ana
- “I really loved learning more about this topic from the criminal justice perspective!” — Mikayla
- “The webinar was well organized and had great information.” — Nicole
- “This webinar was very insightful. Although many of us know a lot of these concepts as a result of working in law enforcement or with victims of violent crime, we often forget the impact our careers can have on us. Self-care and resiliency are things that we as professionals must maintain in order to be helpful when providing support and resources for others. Alejandro Palacios was an excellent Presenter and his presentation was one of the very best.” — Cheryl
- “The whole thing was amazing! Great information and great presenters!” — Alexis
- “I have had a lot of trauma training so a lot of this was familiar to me. Must admit, “fawning” was a new concept, but makes a lot of sense with DV. Also, the “numb scrawling”, yep, have done that, now have a name for it.” — Lorna
- “Having a refresher course is very helpful. I find the “Self-Care” wheel and the “Feel Wheel” very useful in my work. Much appreciated!” — Althea
NACP and D-SAACP Advocates can earn 1 CEU by attending this webinar through the National Advocate Credentialing Program (NACP)® and the DoD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program (D-SAACP). Founded in 1975, the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) is the oldest national victim assistance organization of its type in the United States and is the recognized leader in victim advocacy, education and credentialing. To learn more about NOVA, visit trynova.org.