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Seminar focuses on treating youth trauma

by MONTE TURNER
Mineral Independent | June 26, 2024 12:00 AM

When a child is experiencing traumatic stress, the reactions can interfere with the child’s daily life and their ability to function and interact with others.

At no age are children immune to the effects of traumatic experiences. Even infants and toddlers can experience traumatic stress, experts say. 

Oftentimes, youth experiencing abuse have difficulty defining what a safe home means to them. A training curriculum was developed under the Linking Systems of Care for Children and Youth in Montana which took six years for development and was funded by the Office of Victims of Crime. Four states -- Illinois, Montana, Ohio and Virginia -- were selected in a competitive process to participate in planning and implementing reforms. 

For Montana, project partners included the University of Montana Criminology Research Group, the Montana Board of Crime Control along with various stakeholders from across the state. This is an in-depth training on policies and practices that programs, agencies, and organizations can employ to be trauma informed. The first of a four-part Linking Systems of Care (LSOC) Training was held last week in the Superior High School multipurpose room

“What I really love about this training is that it’s an opportunity to get people from different sectors on the same page with language and ideas and actual practical policies,” explained Anna Semple with the Missoula Public Health Department. 

The LSOC training is an eight-module series that is being broken up over four sessions. 

“And today, we’re really going to go slow, so we can go fast. We want to set the foundation well so when we launch into the next ones, we can cover the more policy heavy things with a shared understanding of why we are here and why these matter. Meaning, the bigger picture,” she said. 

Semple was instrumental in receiving the grant and had offered to bring the class to Mineral County if it was awarded to MPHD. Four classes of two hours each covering eight modules with the first being the base of the course of the different types of traumas. 

“Not just the policy and analytical headspace but really understand the whole concept of trauma,” she said. 

Paper was handed out to the participants for them to write down what they would like to learn or know more about in the next classes, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all curriculum.

Mariah Maxwell and Ivy Anderson from The Parenting Place accompanied Semple. The Parenting Place is a nonprofit child abuse and neglect prevention agency in Missoula.

They teach classes to professionals and families from several categories including incarceration support, nurturing parent program and PASTA (Parenting a Second Time Around). Two of their classes, Trauma 101 and ACE’s Training, tied directly into LSOC so another agency was introduced to the attendees which consisted of private and school counselors, school administrators, crime victim advocates, health professionals and parents.

Anderson said, “We don’t like to talk about it (trauma at home) and often we are told, especially when we are kids, that nobody wants to hear that. I had a guy who was in our jail class that every time he tried to talk with his parents, his dad would say, ‘You’re being a baby. Go cry in your room.’ So, we are kind of conditioned to not even acknowledge our pain. We’ve just brushed it under the rug and if you tell people, you’re considered a Negative Nelly.”

Three diversities of trauma were explained in depth:

ACE’s stands for “Adverse Childhood Experiences.” These experiences can include things like physical and emotional abuse, neglect, caregiver mental illness, and household violence.

Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) is for anyone who survives a critical illness that warranted admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) and is susceptible to developing post-intensive care syndrome (PICS). Trauma-informed care (TIC) or trauma-and violence-informed care (TVIC), is a framework for relating to and helping people who have experienced negative consequences after exposure to dangerous experiences with the means of bouncing back.

When the MPHD applied for this grant, they reached out to the Mineral County Health Department offering the course if they were to receive the program funding. Jess Schaak and April Quinlan with the Mineral County Health Department were involved in bringing this series to the area. If you would care to attend the remainder of the courses that are free of charge, contact Jess Schaak at 406-822-3564. The first one was recorded, or a person can step in for the last three which will be Aug. 6, Oct. 8 and Dec. 10.