Trauma training-Involve Families

We know where ecosystems meet is the site of great diversity. This is true in the training world as well. Frequently medical students are divided by specialty for training, these groups are called subspecialties. These individual group focus intently on their area of which they want to become experts. They focus on a medical specialty to treat humans of various ages. They frequently do not include the actual patients or families of patients. This omission is felt keenly by families.

I have lived experience being the parent of a neuro-diverse child who went undiagnosed until their mid teens. I am a certified family peer support specialist through the state of Oregon. My training and experience helps me to be the connection between the family and professionals.

Frustration exists on both sides. Medical professionals want people to follow treatment; families and consumers want professionals who can truly see and hear them. Too often a family feels like the 10 minute slot they are assigned in a busy provider’s day. While the doc may be a nice person, the words they deliver may just be lifechanging. As I have traveled all over the state, speaking to hundreds of parents and grandparents, they recount the words. Some can describe your shoe color or what you wore, as the line between their past and future starkly came into focus. They felt so scared and helpless.


An event that completely overwhelms the one’s ability to cope and has lasting effects on the individual. 
-SAMHSA’s Trauma and Justice Strategic Initiative July 2014

These parents, in the process of working with professionals to care for their children, experience trauma. This experience is usually ongoing as the parent continues to seek care and and treatment. The trauma inflicted by well-meaning providers, receptionists, billers, insurance companies, etc. compounds on itself. I know some parents who are crushed under it’s weight. They had to be hospitalized from the toxic stress. Many others plowed on and made it through, storing the trauma in their bodies, as people do when they don’t have the tools to process it.

A trauma informed provider and their clinic team know that each interaction can heal or retraumatize. They learn about their power dynamic (even if they don’t feel empowered) and how to respond in ways to mitigate the trauma, when and if possible.

If you organization doesn’t provide you with the trauma information you need, please become as familiar with trauma informed care practices on your own. Join my monthly training to continue your knowledge. Youth, consumers and families rely on you. YOU make the difference in appointment. You applying what you learn can be the difference between healing trauma or spreading it. The most powerful trainings I have been a part of included families-as trainers and participants. Healing can happen in real time. Try it, if you haven’t.