Try the support network, and if you can't find your answer there, contact one of the ACEsConnection community managers: Elizabeth Prewitt, Alicia St. Andrews, Jesus Gaeta or Jane Stevens. We'll also be adding more info to the "Tips for Getting Around on ACEs Connection", below.

On December 17, 2014, over 20 people met from across the Washington, DC metro area to begin a dialogue on how to move towards creating trauma informed communities. The event was co-sponsored by the STAR Center, a national technical assistance center working for mental health systems transformation, and The Campbell Center, an education and advocacy group for individuals living with and seeking treatment from mental health and substance addiction challenges.


This gathering was initially the brainchild of Chacku Mathai of the STAR Center and Leah Harris of the National Center for Trauma Informed Care. Both Mathai and Harris had been inspired by the growing trauma-informed community movement documented in the Community Resilience Cookbook and ACEs Connection. They were having lunch at an event together, and said, “let’s make this conversation happen.” They reached out to Iden Campbell McCollum, CEO of the Campbell Center, and a longtime trauma awareness advocate in the District of Columbia, who enthusiastically joined the partnership. 


Participants represented diverse backgrounds and communities in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Northern Virginia -- including trauma survivors, ACEs educators, child welfare, juvenile justice, domestic violence, parent educators, social workers, peer support specialists, legal advocates, veterans, educators, and advocates for youth and adults who are homeless and justice involved.


Mathai opened up the discussion by noting the need to break down our silos. “We can’t solve the complex problems we face alone. It will take the creative contributions of many people across systems and organizations. Hopefully this is the beginning of an ongoing dialogue and action oriented network to build community resilience in the Washington, DC Metro Area.”


Harris gave a brief introduction to the ACE Study and shared about the initiatives happening in PhiladelphiaTarpon Springs, FL, and Walla Walla, WA, among other places, where people are putting what we know about trauma and resilience into practice on the community level. Said Harris, “As someone with an ACE score of 7, who has personally has experienced the devastating effects of trauma as well as the potential for healing, I feel a deep calling to do all I can to help reduce the prevalence of traumatic stress across the life spanand to promote individual and community resilience.”



McCollushared his moving personal story of building resiliency as a trauma survivor, which has included healing relationships, a regimen of holistic self-care, and spiritual practices. He also talked about the particular traumas faced by the transgender community and the traumatic impact of racism and gentrification in the DC Metro area. He announced a two-day Trauma Conference, to be held May 12-13, 2015, sponsored by the Campbell Center, which will include a track on community resilience. 


Following Harris’ and McCollum’s presentations, participants shared their ideas for where this initiative could go, including better education for parents on trauma and child development; educating landlords about the trauma histories of their tenants; and training for law enforcement on trauma and resilience.


There was strong enthusiasm for the conversation to continue. Next steps will include convening a steering committee and identifying/reaching out to other people and community groups that should be invited to participate. Stay tuned for further updates as this hopeful initiative develops. For more information, email leahharris2 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Trauma Informed DC Metro Area Gathering


New research suggests it is just as toxic as sexual abuse.


As recent reports regarding actor Stephen Collins remind us, accusations of child sexual abuse reliably produce a reaction of intense horror. But a new study suggests that, if we are to seriously address the mistreatment of children and the long-term damage it creates, we need to broaden our focus.

In an article entitled “Unseen Wounds,” a team of researchers argues that childhood emotional abuse—a problem far more widespread than sexual molestation—is linked to just as much suffering and problematic behavior as the victims grow into adolescents.


In a large sample, “psychologically mistreated youth exhibited equivalent or greater baseline levels of behavioral problems, symptoms, and disorders compared with physically or sexually abused youth on most indicators,” writes the researchers, led by Joseph Spinazzola of theTrauma Center at Justice Resource Institute in Brookline, Massachusetts.


See more of this article at


Dear Friends of the Trauma Center at JRI,


It has been almost 10 years since The Trauma Center moved its home to Justice Resource Institute and what a beautiful marriage it has been!  The complementary missions, talents, and resources have combined to expand the research, training, and clinical service across levels of care throughout New England.  Our training program has reached across the continental U.S. into the U.S. territories, Canada, Europe and Asia.  It is truly amazing what like minds and hearts can do when we work together with passion. As you know, we need to continue to grow our endowment, so that we can provide security to our Center and maintain our independent voice and leadership in the field of trauma. As you make your year-end contributions, please consider a gift to the Trauma Center.


Some of our major accomplishments for 2014:


1. Completion and publication of "Unseen Wounds" the largest study of its kind on over 5,000 children and adolescents, which unequivocally demonstrates the equal or greater effects of psychological abuse (compared to physical and sexual abuse) on wide-ranging youth outcomes.  Results of this study prove what Dr. van der Kolk has been preaching for years.


2. Successful expansion of our Complex Trauma Treatment Network's regional training and consultation into the U.S. territories. This constitutes the first intensive undertaking by any of the more than 150 National Child Traumatic Stress Network sites to reach multidisciplinary providers serving children in the U.S. territories in the 14-year history of the Network.


3. Participation in the Massachusetts Office of Victims Assistance Resiliency Center for survivors of the Boston marathon bombings.


4. Launch of international webcast of our Trauma Center Certificate Program with over 200 attendees worldwide. This represents a tenfold increase in the size and scope of our Certificate Program since joining JRI in 2005!


2015 Forecast:


1. Celebrating 10 years with Justice Resource Institute on April 1st.


2. Anticipated completion of the final wave of the national, multisite DTD epidemiological and diagnostic Field Trial by the end of 2015


3. Launch of the first pilot outcome study of Internal Family Systems for adult trauma.


Cutting Edge Research on Neurofeedback with Children & Adults


A specific interest we have at The Trauma Center is in Neurofeedback.  We recently completed the first randomized controlled trial of clinical neurofeedback for adult trauma survivors, which revealed that 20 sessions of neurofeedback over 10 weeks not only dramatically reduces PTSD at levels equal or greater to those observed in top-tier research on trauma-focused therapies for adult PTSD, but also became the first PTSD treatment outcome study to demonstrate substantial improvements in executive functioning (e.g. impulse control, attention and concentration, decision-making and problem-solving, cognitive flexibility, etc.) as a result of treatment. The findings of this important study have major implications for intervention with survivors of chronic and severe trauma, many of whose lives have been significantly limited by deficits in these vitally important higher-order cognitive capacities the absence of which derails learning and functioning in school, vocation, relationships and society.


Recognizing the critical implications of these findings for early intervention with traumatized children, we realized we could not hesitate to embark on a randomized controlled study of neurofeedback for children despite the persistent refusal of federal research institutions to fund clinical research on neurofeedback.  A generous donation from a private donor, in combination with dedication of our limited research reserves amassed the $200,000 necessary to cover costs associated with 50% of this study, which has now been actively underway since summer 2014. In this study we will recruit 40 children with histories of severe abuse or neglect and assign them to either brain biofeedback (clinical neurofeedback) or traditional biofeedback (heart rate variability retraining). After doing mini-brain mapping, we provide children assigned to the neurofeedback condition with 24 sessions of neurofeedback, administered by our well-trained staff. To date we have successful enrolled 15 children into this study, many of whom have been adopted by loving parents from the Boston area and beyond.


We ask for your help in undertaking a challenge match to raise the additional $200,000 necessary to cover the cost of completing this study. If the results of this child study are even remotely as positive as those of our recently completed adult study, the combination of these two studies will not only be game-changing for the traumatic stress field, but more importantly will establish an effective approach to help countless children and adults become functional members of society, including many of the more than 3 million new child maltreatment victims per year, a sizable percentage of whom prove to be non-responsive to traditional, talk-based psychotherapies.  A well-done study is hoped to influence insurance companies to reimburse for this treatment--as currently almost no insurances do--which will result in more practitioners being trained and neurofeedback becoming more widely available to trauma survivors. Finally, studies such as these will allow us to create collaborative networks of basic neuroscientists and practitioners to work on gaining a greater understanding of ways to reverse the damage caused by early childhood deprivation, trauma and neglect.


The success of our research and training programs derives from their foundation in our clinical work.  The focus of The Trauma Center continues to be helping children, adults and families who have been impacted by trauma, and we couldn't do it without your help. Thank you again for all of your support!




         Joseph Spinazzola                                               Alexandra Cook

        Executive Director                                              Associate Director


(If you are interested in donating to this important research, please see the JRI website - it is easy to google.). Thanks Tina


Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 10.52.42 AMDon’t miss a great year-end piece in the New York Times “Fixes” series (looks at solutions to social problems and why they work) by Tina Rosenberg who features the need to target the “social determinants” to improve health and education as a big idea for social change in 2014. She describes how ACEs “can decrease the chances of a successful life if parents, educators or doctors fail to recognize them and respond.” The article provides a link to another New York Times “Fixes” column that includes an interview with ACEs Too High and ACEs Connection founder and editor Jane Stevens who describes the impact of ACEs on children’s ability to succeed in school and how alternatives to reflexive punishment can be effective.


Excerpt from section TARGET THE “SOCIAL DETERMINANTS” in the NYT Fixes article:Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 3.42.58 PM


A medical mystery: A child lands in the hospital with asthma. The doctor prescribes medicines. The child uses them — properly. Yet two months later, she is back in the hospital.


Maybe the problem is that the child lives alongside mold, insects and rats. That child doesn’t need a doctor — she needs a lawyer, who can persuade, or threaten, the landlord to clean it up. And at more than 230 medical clinics around the country, lawyers are on hand to help.


Health isn’t just a medical problem. Health is undercut by substandard housing, air pollution, food deserts, dangerous streets, trauma and toxic stress — the social determinants of health. Being poor can make you sick, and doctors can’t always help.


Education, too, has social determinants. “Zero tolerance” has become the fashion in American schools — kids who act up are suspended and then expelled, even in preschool, and sometimes arrested.


This policy succeeds only in sabotaging the education of the children who need it most — mostly low-income African-American or Hispanic boys, many of whom have already faced daunting, often overwhelming, problems. When a 6-year old is aggressive, uncontrollable or violent in class, the question shouldn’t be “What’s wrong with him?” but “What happened to him?” The answer, too often, is that he experienced homelessness, divorce, family violence, incarceration, drug use, neighborhood violence, sudden separation or loss — or typically a combination of the above. Researchers now call these things ACEs or “adverse childhood experiences.” Increasingly, they are measuring them and discovering how drastically they can decrease the chances of a successful life if parents, educators or doctors fail to recognize them and respond. But parents and teachers can learn new, and better ways of helping these children — far more effective than reflexive punishment — and the kids themselves can learn ways to calm themselves and manage their strong emotions.


Social determinants follow students all the way through their educations. Community colleges have become the colleges of the poor in this country. And six years after enrolling, only one-third have completed a degree or transferred to a four-year college.


Why do students drop out? Overwhelmingly, it’s that they can’t afford school, and can’t afford to take time off from work to study.


One response is Single Stop, which has offices now spreading through community colleges that help people find out if they qualify for benefits such as food stamps, child care subsidies, federal financial aid or the earned-income tax credit — and if so, Single Stop helps clients to get them.


Looking for the social determinants is not the same as looking for root causes, which can sometimes become an excuse for inaction — the idea that you have to solve everything before you can solve anything. Both concepts recognize that poverty causes interlocking problems. But targeting social determinants is specific and practical. A medical clinic doesn’t have to lift a child out of poverty to treat her asthma. But it must get the landlord to do mold abatement. Schools can’t reduce adverse childhood experiences. But they can manage their impact.


You don’t have to solve everything to make progress on social problems. But what needs to be solved may be hidden from view. Finding it, attacking it and measuring the results — that’s a big idea in social change, this year and every year.





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While teaching a course on Child Sexual Abuse in Chennai, India I used the ACEs research. It was very well received. Several professionals in the audience not only found it relevant but could see its application in their own lives. It adds to further...
Hi everyone. I wanted to get some input. Our Lutheran Church has asked if I might be interested in working with mothers at risk due to ACEs in their own childhood's for negative outcomes in their children and to work with the church to develop a...
Good morning colleagues,   Recently we have gotten requests from a number of organizations seeking training and consultation on integrating screening for ACEs into their routine intake and assessment processes.  These requests have come from...
As the Trauma Injury Prevention Coordinator for a Level II Trauma Center I would like to pass on to our surgeons information about chronic stress and ACEs and how it relates to our patient population.  Looking for help with this subject and any...
Would like to chat with other Marriage and Family Therapists that are using ACES in their work.     Thanks,   Jeff
Tina Marie Hahn, MD commented on this clip:
Journalism for Social Change with Daniel Heimpel and Jennifer Granholm (30 min)
Journalist Daniel Heimpel describes how reporting about California's foster care system led him to create a solutions-based style of reporting. He is joined by former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Dean Henry E. Brady.
Liked Tina Marie Hahn, MD liked this clip:
Journalism for Social Change with Daniel Heimpel and Jennifer Granholm (30 min)
Journalist Daniel Heimpel describes how reporting about California's foster care system led him to create a solutions-based style of reporting. He is joined by former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Dean Henry E. Brady.
Jane Stevens posted a video clip.
Journalism for Social Change with Daniel Heimpel and Jennifer Granholm (30 min)
Journalist Daniel Heimpel describes how reporting about California's foster care system led him to create a solutions-based style of reporting. He is joined by former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Dean Henry E. Brady.
Liked Tina Marie Hahn, MD liked this clip:
Chicago Humanities Festival with Dr. Bruce Perry
Join renowned psychiatrist Bruce D. Perry, recipient of the 2014 Dolores Kohl Education Prize, for this discussion of early-childhood brain development and its long-term importance.