Recently, our residents and volunteers gathered at our Isabella House for a class titled, Trauma Informed Care. The class was taught by special guest speakers, Dr. Kesha M. Nelson and Dr. Kate Swafford. Dr. Nelson is a Board Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Dr. Swafford is a licensed clinical social worker and trauma response care certified therapist. Together, they delivered a powerful session on trauma-informed care. Considering that many residents are emerging from addiction, incarceration, abusive relationships, and other traumatic circumstances, the class proved to be exceptionally beneficial in helping our residents better understand their needs. Takeaways shared by our residents include the following:

1) The earlier the trauma, the greater the impact later in life.Our brains do not fully develop until age 26. When trauma is experienced early in life, it will impact us in a greater capacity during our later years, after full brain development. This can look like an increased risk of both physical and mental health problems, including addiction, anxiety, and depression.

2) Stop running from it—face it head-on.

Dr. Nelson and Dr. Swafford agreed that the number one treatment for trauma is exposure therapy. This means facing our problems head-on instead of ignoring them. Efforts to ignore trauma usually end up useless, as the trauma will often still appear at night, typically through nightmares or flashbacks.

Empowering Recovery Exploring Trauma Informed Care with Dr. Nelson & Dr. Swafford

3) Reach out and talk about it! Don’t keep it a secret.

By seeking support from professionals and consulting others who may have also gone through our experience, we can get effective help in working past our trauma. Trauma-informed care specialists can share coping methods such as the 4-7-8 breathing technique, journaling, and creating plans to help us better handle impacts of trauma when they occur.

The Thursday night class was a valuable learning experience for everyone in attendance, and each person will be able to carry their newfound insights and resources into their own lives.
The open discussion allowed attendees to fully delve into understanding what trauma looks like, its impact, and the importance of trauma-informed care, as well as support resources available to those in need.

Thank you again to Dr. Nelson and Dr. Swafford for sharing their knowledge about trauma-informed care!