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Michigan ACEs Action (MI)

Healthy and resilient kids, families, and communities are the foundation for a flourishing, vibrant region. We are dedicated to creating a trauma-informed Michigan and working together across sectors to share our efforts in building resilience and reducing toxic stress for Michigan children and families.

Trauma-Informed Care is Not a Program For Your Clients 


Understanding the long-term impact of developmental trauma, how trauma impacts the brain, and the science of resiliency is a powerful first step toward change.  It is exciting to watch people begin to let this knowledge soak in… and even more exciting when they begin to ask “Now what?”  As I have worked with organizations across the state, I have found that often what they are really looking for is the curriculum or recipe book that they can follow for their clients or students.  Even those that realize that it is a paradigm shift - or a way of doing and seeing things differently - are often still focused on what they should be doing differently with their students or clients.  For them, it is still about the best technique to use with those they serve.  

Although incorporating trauma-informed practice with those we serve is important, it really shouldn’t be the first step.  To be truly trauma-informed, one must first take a look inward.   Trauma-informed starts at the individual level.  To be the best for those we serve, we must model the behaviors and techniques we are teaching.  In any situation, the greatest tool we have is our ability to self-regulate.  Emotional regulation allows us to stay focused on the person in front of us, helping them to feel safe and heard so they can begin to make positive changes.  We ourselves must practice these skills, make self-care a priority, and engage in supportive relationships.  We must be aware of our own trauma and how that may trigger or impact us in our work. 

But to do that effectively, we need organizations and leaders that provide the resources, time, and safety to practice these skills.  When organizations are brave enough to do this for themselves, it will flow into the work they do, and with the clients they serve.  Parallel process thinking tells us that the dynamics of one system will be picked up and re-enacted by another system.  So if we want those we serve to feel safe and empowered, it is critical that those working with them feel the same. This means leadership style, organizational culture, policies, and how change and conflict are handled must reflect a trauma-informed approach.  We can not expect our professional helpers to leave a meeting where ego and fear are at the forefront, then be able to effectively direct clients to engage in emotional regulation and healthy communication.  We need our organizations to be trauma-informed from the ground up. 


Trauma-informed is not a program you adopt.  And that’s a good thing…since programs don’t help people, people help people.  True healing happens in relationship.  So now what?  Now you take what you know about the ACEs and Resiliency sciences and apply it.  Just start with yourself first.  

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Yes!!! Thank you for writing so succinctly the “what’s next”. The personal work involved is the most difficult...but has the greatest impact. We’ve all heard of “mirror neurons”, and doing our own work results in a cascade of goodness🙏🏼

I agree. There is not one BDP that suits all.

I have seen people "run child clients" thru: the TF-CBT workbook By Alison Hendricks, Judith A. Cohen, Anthony P. Mannarino, and Esther Deblinger (which is a good tool) ,  have the pizza party and declare "mission accomplished".  

It doesn't necessarily work that way.  

I agree that healing includes our ability to sit with clients in their trauma, "hold the safe space" for them to figure it out.  I definitely need to continue to do work when new glitches come my way.

Having said that, I feel this is the area where I am able to bear witness and promote healing.  Trauma clients keep beating a path to my door. 

Community awareness runs concurrent with therapy. Whether I am interacting with schools, families, partners... explaining how aggressive and punitive responses never produce positive results. Learning to calm the lizard brain (brainstem, survival brain, overreactive libmbic) is key.  Teaching this to the individual and teaching the community to modulate responses and stay within the zone of tolerance to calm the hypervigilant survival instinct.

What kind of work is this group doing... or hoping to do?

I'm interested from Ludington!




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