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Intermountain hosts trauma-informed ministry training and workshop


Chaplain Chris Haughee of Intermountain's Residential Services in Helena, Montana, hosted an all-day training and workshop on trauma-informed ministry on September 15th, 2016.

The day started off with introductions and then it was time for Brie Oliver, ACE Master Trainer, to give the group the basics in adverse childhood experiences, the science behind life-long health effects from childhood trauma, and share the possible ways faith communities could help build resiliency in children and families.

After a short break, Chaplain Chris facilitated a panel discussion with the theme, "What does 'trauma-informed' ministry look like?" A Key goal of the panel discussion was to start to talk about the implications the ACE Study has in considering ministry within our communities. Panel participants included ACE Master Trainer Brie Oliver; as well as children's therapists and mental health professionals Mike Kalous, Cindy Little, Crystal Amundson, and Terri Murray.

After a wonderful catered lunch, where those gathered were able to discuss the morning's presentations and carry forward the conversation about how the material presented intersected with their own ministry contexts, the group reconvened for Chaplain Chris' presentation, â€œ10 Things the kid with ACEs would like your church to know." The presentation focused on practical ministry insights and interventions that could be employed in ministry setting to make for a more successful and fulfilling experience for those overcoming childhood trauma or adversity.

The afternoon workshop centered around designing a teaching lesson for a fictitious after-school group when given a suggested outline for the program and a brief bio of a child with ACEs and a trauma background that would be present. The small groups each had a different lesson and child bio to work with, and they did a wonderful job displaying their learning and implementing choices in the curriculum that reflected a trauma-informed approach. One example that had everyone chuckling a bit was when the group said their curriculum called for an object lesson around sharpening knives and scissors! The lesson was about how hard/abrasive things can help shape us and make us useful for ministering to others. Well, the group thought maybe they'd substitute emery boards and have the children file their own nails a bit, foregoing the scissors and knives but still getting the teaching point across!

A pre- and post-seminar evaluation showed that participants grew most in their understanding of ACEs and their implications in ministry, their familiarity with trauma-informed ministry practices, and in their personal confidence in presenting to other church leaders the importance of becoming trauma-informed. The (admittedly) non-scientific survey showed agreement in each of these areas jumping from "neutral" or "slightly agree" to "strongly agree!"

Several of the denominational leaders and those from other municipalities in Montana expressed interest in facilitating a training in their communities and continuing the conversation about trauma-informed ministries amongst the group that had gathered.

(c) Chaplain Chris Haughee, 2016

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