By: Andi Fetzner PsyD
The recent appointment of Nadine Burke Harris as California’s first Surgeon General represents exciting opportunities for increased leadership and momentum around issues related to ACEs and toxic stress. But you don’t have to be a surgeon general to be a Resilience Champion. Anyone who is using (or who wants to use) a trauma-informed and resilience-building approach to lead change can make a difference!
But what does it mean to be a Resilience Champion?
I’m often asked the question “What exactly is a trauma-informed approach?” When I’m asked that question, a million terms rush through my brain: The ACE study, intergenerational trauma, compassion, brain architecture, integrated health, Decarte, nutrition, mind-body connection, epigenetics, and resilience. All of these terms start the creation of a word cloud in my mind’s eye. The name itself--”trauma-informed approach”--is received differently by different audiences. Even though I have spent almost ten years swimming in both the research and practice of the stuff, explaining it flips my proverbial lid and thrusts me right into my own freeze response.
After some deep breaths, muscle clench-and-relaxes, and a swig of coffee, I have my thinking cap on again and have an answer. A trauma-informed approach is a way of being and interacting that considers stress as a contributor to thoughts, feelings, behavior, and overall health. The concepts behind this approach are simple, but not easy. In The Basics, a 90-minute online training, we review these concepts: The Adverse Childhood Experiences Framework, Social & Historical Trauma, The Body & Brain, and Resilience. In any setting, awareness of the first three concepts can be applied with the end goal of building resilience. But once you have that awareness, what do you do about it? How can you apply these concepts to your setting?
In our Resilience Champion 2.0 Certificate program, we highlight a number of examples of leaders who are using a trauma-informed approach to build resilience in their setting. Let’s look at one of these Resilience Champions. Jessica Flowers is Program Director at Free Arts of Arizona, a nonprofit organization in Arizona delivering creative and therapeutic arts programs to children who have faced abuse, neglect and homelessness. Since its inception in 1993, resilience-building has been at the core of Free Arts’ programs and services but they didn’t always use those words. Jessica is a brilliant soul who I unknowingly introduced to ACEs during a training I provided for the community in Arizona. After she learned about ACEs science, she was able to put language to things that Free Arts was already doing and organization trained as many staff, volunteers, and professional teaching artists as possible on ACEs and the other concepts behind a trauma-informed approachShe explains why this made a difference for them:. “For the first time we were speaking the same language as other people in our sector.” While they had been serving foster youth in the community, that shared language and communication gave them access to, as Jessica puts it, “live within that world and have a focus and a common language and a common goal.”
Jessica Flowers is one of the many Resilience Champions you will learn about in The Resilience Champion 2.0 Certificate Program. This course build off the concepts from The Basics and provides a forum to help you translate those concepts into practical application in your own unique setting. By the end of this course, you will walk away with concrete next steps to begin the process of integrating a trauma-informed and resilience-building approach into your setting.
We have updated our the Resilience Champion program based on feedback from three cohorts of participants in 2018 and are excited to announce our next cohort starting April 22, 2019. This 6-week online training program includes a video, an activity, a discussion post, and additional resources for each of the following topics:
- Week 1: What is a Resilience Champion?
In this section, you will explore what it means to be a Resilience Champion and the role of leadership and teamwork in promoting sustainable change. As part of this, you will define your setting and your team for this course.
- Week 2: Exploring Your Why
In this section, we will invite you to take a step back and explore “why you do what you do” and your overall vision for integrating this approach into your setting.
- Week 3: Developing Your Culture:
In this section, you will explore the role of culture in sustaining a trauma-informed approach. As part of this, you will define the values that will help promote a resilience-building culture in your setting.
- Week 4: Assessing Your Setting:
In this section, you will use a systematic approach to assess your setting. As part of this, you will examine different domains of your setting, such as leadership capacity, policies and procedures, and physical environment.
- Week 5: Defining Your Goals:
In this section, you will build off the findings of your assessment to define concrete goals for integrating this approach into your setting. As part of this, you will use a strengths-based approach to identify resources that can support you in your process.
- Week 6: Focusing on an Action Plan:
In this section, you will focus on translating your goals into a concrete action plan. To support this goal, you will walk through a process designed to brainstorm and execute potential solutions.
Sharing a language allows for anyone in any sector to become a leader and to expand their reach into spaces that may have been previously inaccessible. In an effort to increase this shared language, The Basics is bundled into The Resilience Champion and is required before starting week 1. If you’ve already taken The Basics, you’ll receive $50 off (email us for promo code). By enrolling into The Resilience Champion 2.0 Certificate program, you will have access to both courses! Each week, you will learn from real-life Resilience Champions who have already taken the next steps towards integrating this approach into their setting, have access to peers who are on a similar journey, and receive support from Lori and me throughout the process.
Coming back to Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris’ mission to treat the root cause of so many problems, we can remember her words: “This is treatable. This is beatable. The single most important thing that we need today is the courage to look at this problem in the face and say, ‘this is real, and this is all of us.” We look forward to you joining us...who knows, maybe you could be the next Nadine Burke Harris!
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