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SAMHSA Forum - Moving From Trauma Understanding to Trauma Responsive - Learning from the Johnson City, Tennessee System of Care


In October of 2017, Dr. Andi Clements and I applied to receive Technical Assistance from SAMHA’s National Center for Trauma Informed Care (NCTIC) requesting to host a webinar during in 2018 of all the cities who are creating a community-wide Trauma-Informed System of Care.  Much to our surprise, the response we received from Dr. Joan Gillece, Executive Director of NCTIC was that Johnson City had emerged as a leader in this work.  She explained, “In 2014, the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a concept paper entitled Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach with the recommendation that communities address trauma by viewing it as an important component of effective behavioral health service delivery. Additionally, it was SAMHSA’s guidance that communities address trauma through a multi-agency public health approach inclusive of public education and awareness, prevention and early identification, and effective trauma-specific assessment and treatment.  Though many communities across the nation were beginning to implement these SAMHSA recommendations, Johnson City clearly stood out as a leader in embracing this model.” 

In her correspondence to some of our city leaders, Dr. Gillece went on to say, “As the Director of SAMHSA’s National Center for Trauma Informed Care, I’ve been in conversation with Community Crime Prevention Programs Coordinator, Becky Haas and East Tennessee State University Psychology Professor, Dr. Andi Clements since 2015 providing guidance and resources as they endeavored to educate the community on Trauma Informed Care. What has resulted has exceeded all expectations for the region embracing and implementing these concepts. Their efforts have produced a growing bi-monthly Trauma Informed System of Care meeting that now has 28 affiliated organizations.” 

On September 5th, Dr. Andi Clements and I will be co-hosting a Forum in Johnson City with Dr. Gillece entitled, “Moving from Understanding to Implementing Trauma Responsive Services.” This forum is with the purpose of helping other communities learn about this successful model.  Forum speakers will include SAMHSA Regional Administrator, Stephanie McCladdie, NCTIC Director, Dr. Joan Gillece and Mary Rolando, Health Advocacy Director, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.  Also you will hear our story of creating a Trauma-Informed System of Care from Dr. Andi Clements and I in a very replicable fashion.  You will hear our local champions telling the story of how a state university is on the road to becoming trauma-informed; a children’s hospital CEO and partners discussing strategic planning underway to become a trauma-informed hospital as well as community impact of health outcomes.  Staff from the public schools will be sharing an inspirational story of Topper Academy and how the schools are partnering with the police department to implement Handle With Care as well as a newly developed, POST Certified, trauma-informed policing training program for law enforcement and much more. (See the full schedule in the Eventbrite invitation). 

Our hope is that this forum will help accelerate other cities towards development of community-wide systems of care through lessons learned in Johnson City.   The event is free, however our venue is small and seating is very limited.  You can register online at


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Marlece Watson posted:

I would appreciate receiving a transcript of the meeting.  Would there be a way to receive a transcript or to patch in the meeting with audio.  Thank you for writing about this meeting.

Unfortunately we have not made plans to make a transcript of the forum.  However we are hopeful the event will be captured by video to make available to others later but we are still working out the details.

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