Thank you so much for this information. I appreciate the emphasis on the complex trauma’s described as often in the school setting we are working with youth who are experiencing intergenerational trauma and collective trauma. I often remember the information about DNA being able to carry it, but had lost the source. So the refresher with Mark Wolynn’s book as well as the others was very validating. The description of trauma presenting with symptoms similar to ADHD also created a lightbulb for me to look at some current client’s and to try a more trauma related treatment and to question previous diagnosis of ADHD based on their history. Again, excellent start, I look forward to next week.
I found this a very useful introduction since trauma was never mentioned in any of my teacher training courses, but it’s come up many times over the years. On September 11th, I was four miles from the Pentagon, teaching international students–including Muslims from Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt, many of whom were harassed or had to return home to their countries. I’ve also had several students who were affected by different types of trauma. For example, one was the only survivor of a car accident; one survived a kidnapping; another had a friend killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. This was all at a private university in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city; trauma is far more common than most people realize.
As a mindfulness teacher, I typically work as an outside provider to a school group for a prescribed number of sessions (e.g. 6 x 1hr). Given the timeframe as well as school confidentiality protocols, I usually know very little about student backgrounds. Although this means I am not able to be precise about the types of trauma, I always work from an assumption that trauma in some form may be present within the cohort and make creating a ‘safe container’ a key priority. The information from Module 1 has given me a more nuanced understanding of the complex dynamics which the ‘container’ could accommodate. Thank you.
Information was useful and relates well particularly unit 5, complex/developmental trauma to the complex kids we see in our residential program. Additionally the thought that trauma of parents of these kids come be passed along in the DNA is a useful and important addition. Thank you. Look forward to the rest of the course.
I work with students with a variety of trauma (sexual, domestic violence, homelessness, etc). This module was really helpful to put some of my students behavior into perspective. I also find it challenging when some of my students present with these trauma-like symptoms but so many families who experience trauma are open to disclosing it. It doesn’t make it challenging to support the student but it does make it challenge to understand what is really going on. I”m really looking forward to the rest of the modules!
Thank you for this efficient, thorough and very well organized introduction and overview of the evolving field of trauma. I have not seen this compilation of relevant material presented in a single course to date, and having the categories of some of the more advanced research and contributions to the field is especially useful in understanding and being able to observe, and assist clients in addressing, various and common behavioral reactions to trauma. I agree that to date, due to lack of training and education in many tradition programs, a good deal of this information is not being offered to new and upcoming professionals. Thanks for the excellent delivery.
As I was looking at your evolved definition of trauma I found myself wondering; “does anyone escape experiencing some kind of trauma (or ACES) in the course of a lifetime”? Working with bereaved youth, the work includes a number of trauma related issues/responses for kids in addition to loss and grief. We live in a fairly high poverty rural/farm area. I worked with a 7 year old whose family left a drug cartel infested crime area in Mexico following the brutal homicide of the child’s father. This child witnessed the murder of his father and absorbed the terror felt when survival of the whole family was in question. He presented with many of the developmental trauma responses outlined in this presentation. Other kinds of trauma we see related to grief in youth following the loss of a loved one include: involvement in a fatal car crash where a family member died, teen suicides of friends and classmates, intergenerational trauma, community and domestic violence leading to death of a loved one. Some teens have lost all parent figures and live in fear as they navigate life on their own or caring for an ill and elderly grandparent caretaker. The stigma related to some of these losses potentially contributes barriers to asking for and accepting help from “outsiders”.
Up to this point, I have not had direct one-on-one experience working with youth who’ve experienced trauma. I know that there are children in my classes and at the school who have experienced trauma, but it hasn’t been anything I’ve had to manage or be engaged with until last week.
Thank you for this very informative and engaging unit. As a child protection worker, I work with children and youth who have a variety of different trauma backgrounds (sexual, physical and/or emotional abuse and neglect, poverty, homelessness, incest, etc..). Although, in my work environment, the cycle of abuse is often discussed, I have never considered this from the prospective of intergenerational trauma. I find this very interesting and will be continuing to further my learning in this area. Thanks!
Information was relevant and very useful. I work with students who have experienced the various forms of trauma we have studied (verbal, physical and sexual abuse, divorce/separation, domestic violence, alcohol and drug exposure and household member going to jail). In the population I work it is very common for them to have miscarriages and/or “traumatic childbirth. I am wondering can these experiences be termed trauma.?
Beautiful synthesis and considered critiques. Excellent first module. And yes, stressful perinatal and painful birth experiences are most definitely experiences that can often lead to trauma responses. These should be included in all discussions, and are often left out Monique. Also not discussed are children in chronic pain, dental and/or surgical trauma, including mistreatment or neglect in childhood… an ever expanding list of human adverse experiences. Excellent introduction to the breadth and depth. Thanks for including Dr. Du Gruy’s work!
Very important information that I can use to understand more why my youth react a certain way to some situations. I am currently working with youth from a community that has been experiencing countless amount of gun violence and other violent situations. Thanks for this first week, was an eye opener and very informative
The kinds of trauma I hear or am told about is often that a parent of a student I’m observing has been in and out of prison or jail, often for drug offenses. We have a number of federal and state prisons within our small community, so almost everyone knows someone who has worked there or been an inmate. I’ve also seen significant depression in parents I’ve worked with that results in mild neglect of the child– dirty clothes, not bathed, inappropriate clothing for the weather, etc. As most of my students have an autism diagnosis, I’m concerned about bridging the gap between the predictability often sought by these students and the disrupted home lives they may have due to trauma from their own experiences or their parents’.
I see children with multiple layers of abuse and neglect and some even caused by the system where a 3 year old had 15 placements. I see a lot of divorce and custody trauma and trauma caused by court proceedings and decisions. Most of the parents of the children I see also have layers of trauma that they have no idea what todo with. The one area I have had is a couple of adults who witnessed a trauma developed delusions. This is different than what I’ve had in the past. These adults in particular did not really have layers of trauma before this.
I found the information in the first module to be a helpful overview of trauma. I appreciate the broader definition given of trauma. I am ordering several of the books referenced in the lessons. I look forward to next week.
The youth I work with have experienced any number of the ACEs discussed in this unit. Many of the youth have complex trauma histories which include experiencing numerous trauma events over their lives up until and including now. I witness the symptoms of PTSD in youth behavior daily including intense escalation to withdrawal. It was especially enlightening to be introduced to the idea of trauma based on the societal systems of oppression that affect groups of people. This has manifested in our program recently among our Latino students whose parents are “illegal immigrants” and concerns they have regarding the current political climate and what that means for their families. I appreciate the critiques and expanded definitions of trauma explored in the videos.
I have an adoption agency in Colorado, being involved in adoption for the past 25 years, my career has been a case study on Trauma and its effects on newborns and older children. I am now moving toward working with my clients children in therapy, and also teaching parents prior to adoption what trauma looks like and how it WILL effect their unborn child. So I would say I am dealing with Intergenerational Trauma, Collective and Complex. Also, I am an adoptive mother of two children from Africa. Both, having had trauma before entering our home. So I am living it day to day as well. I am looking forward to more information to help me move forward in my chosen field.
We have been talking much more among professionals in our rural community about ACEs. I think that many more items could be added to the ACE questionnaire that would alert/inform the practitioner as well as the client to the possibility of a PTSD diagnosis and therefore be treated for that instead of ADHD or Oppositional Defiant Disorder etc. I was also very grateful that the DNA information regarding legacy burdens was presented. One model of therapy that I use is the Internal Family Systems (Richard Schwartz, Phd) model in counseling and we explore the trauma that ancestors have experienced, then unburden those parts generationally. I’m wondering about trauma that has occurred pre-verbally in adopted children and the severe distress they carry because of this, yet have no cognition of that maltreatment. I’d like to learn more about that.
I wish I had this information a few years back when I worked with students at a detention facility. Being an introductory course, this has given me much needed information about trauma. I see trauma is very complex and it has broaden my views about trauma. I have Dr. Van Der Kolk’s book and hope to start reading it soon. Intergenerational trauma is new to me.
I’ve been working in adult jail for the past 12 years at SRJ and now work at ACCESS with Alameda County. While in the jail context, I often witnessed cops being disrespectful to inmates–verbal abuse, at times physical abuse on the part of badge staff. As for inmates themselves, majority of the criminal justice system is built on the backs of POC’s (Black & Brown) and indigent persons. Trauma with all the ACE’s are repeated over and over and over in the Criminal Justice System. Majority of the population locked up have extensive histories of trauma as indicated by ACE’s. I would encounter many young youth aging out of Juv Hall and graduating to adult jail only to be committed to another system that doesn’t allow for deep healing of trauma–ACE symptoms. I purchase Herman’s, Van Der Kolk and Wolynn’s books for more depth.
Even though this is an introduction to the concepts and the intent is to lay a foundation, I believe the information presented so far has been very thorough. The youth I work with in the juvenile justice system have experienced all different types of trauma. The majority of them have complex trauma, a few, in addition, have historical or intergenerational trauma.
I worked for six years in a therapeutic high school working with very challenging teens one on one. We were training and supervised by clinicians and I learned a great deal. I now work in a tech high school. I thought it would be “easier” work. And in some ways it is, but mostly it isn’t. And that is because many of the kids I teach now aren’t traumatized “enough” to qualify for the intense (and expensive one on one program) but are too traumatized to function well in a regular public high school. So I have a class of 16 kids, half of whom exhibit many of the symptoms we just went over. In addition, they come from rural communities where the male culture is very strongly a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of culture. So.. I use restorative circles and mindfulness to create enough connection and regulation for us to get some work done. But… many teachers aren’t trained in trauma and misunderstand all those symptoms. It’s hard to witness.
I love this course! Thank you so much for the clarity in your presentations as well as for including Intergenerational Trauma and Historical Trauma. The length of each video is great, too- long enough to get lots of great information, but short enough to watch between events in a day. I teach mindfulness to public school elementary school students in a diverse city with many Muslim children and children with immigrant families from many different countries. As someone else previously mentioned, as an outside provider I don’t know the diagnoses or IEP plans of these students, but am presented with the challenge of teaching mindfulness to children that have behavior issues and trauma backgrounds who could become triggered. I watched the week one videos a few times to attempt to really absorb all you’ve presented, and I think the framework you’ve presented will help me understand and work with these students better. I’m excited and relieved to have this information because it puts a lot of behaviors I’ve seen into context. I look forward to putting this deeper understanding into practice.
I see high school children in a school based clinic. I knew the clinic was situated in a socio-economically depressed part of San Antonio and expected to find these children were under resourced or maybe neglected but I was very surprised by the level of violence and trauma many of these students experience or have experienced. Many of these students have been sexually assaulted (many times serially from a young age), many of them have parents who have been incarcerated, murdered or absent or neglectful. So many of these students have witnessed and experienced violence and they live in communities were they don’t feel safe.
Thank you. I see a lots of “dis enfranchised or desensitised ” trauma, if there are such a words. So statements like…” it was only one of the robbers had a gun so I should be grateful” One 17 year old who had a wound from the floor tile hitting her leg after the robbers had shot into the floor around them said to me ” I am okay…the bullet did not hit me..I will be fine”, calm and holding it together. On the other hand I see so many people who have the symptoms mentioned and because the are so common, they feel they don’t have permission to deal with those feelings or symptoms ….and they become ineffective in their daily lives and they blame themselves for not coping and not the terrible situation they have had to endure .
In my three years of working as an in home behavior therapist, I have had clients who were abandoned as babies due to drug addicted parents now being raised by their grandparents. In one instance, the youth was not only left on a street corner with a teenager but was later given up by his grandfather in favor of his 4th wife. His third wife adopted him and recently, I was able to successfully close his case. His fight/flight tendencies have diminished, he has become empathetic and is doing successfully in school. This is only one happy ending story. It was not all my doing, I worked closely with his outpatient therapist.
In another case, I am witnessing generational trauma. My client was sexually abused by her father at the age of 4. Her mother was abused by her paternal grandfather from ages 7 to 17. This is a 3 generation household and I suspect that one or both of the maternal parents experienced SA as well. I suspect the grandmother due to her lack of affect when her daughter was relating her own sexual trauma to myself, the family partner and the intensive care coordinator.
Currently, I have a youth in CBAT for behavioral observation, put in there by his school. Last week, a student called him a “n_ _ _ _ _”. My client became dysregulated, broke a mirror, threw chairs and physically aggressed towards the student. I attended his meeting at the center the other day. (This is a new case, I have only done the intake and one home assessment before he was placed in residential) His mother reported that the school has suspended him every week since school began at the end of August he has been hospitalized by the school 4 times. This is a new school for him and it runs on the “behavior model” with a BCBA who handles the behavior program. I spoke to the youth’s therapist after the meeting as she was unable to attend. I learned that last April, this youth witnessed a home invasion by the mother’s former boyfriend who locked them in a bedroom and continuously abused this mother in front of her son. They somehow managed to escape but upon return, their residence was trashed. A little further background on this case, they youth is 8, his mother is 22. She is the product of foster care and in fact had her son while in foster care. The child was sodomized by a 12 year old when he was 3. The mother has been in and out of DV relationships. Currently, she does have a boyfriend who spends weekends with them. She has her own trauma history but is reluctant to seek therapy. I am working closely with his therapist who wants to do trauma treatment with this youth but has to have him stabilized at first. I told her how I was beginning this course and she was very pleased that I am pursuing the study of trauma.
When I assumed this position, I was told that most of the clients we serve had either an ADHD or an autism diagnosis. I had come from a background of working with the autism population. I soon learned that the clients I had now were sexually abused, had gang members for parents, lived in homeless shelters and/or were abandoned by their biological parents. I began to explore trauma after my own granddaughter became a victim of DV and I took her in my care for 13 months while her parents sought professional help. She was only 3 at the time but I sought treatment for her as she did not sleep the first 6 months she was with us. I had the fortune to meet a wonderful trauma trained therapist who introduced me to the kinds of programs she used and articles to read. From there I became familiar with Bessel Van Der Kolk and “The Body Keeps the Score” became my bible . I am pleased with this course. I love the information that is being shared. My supervisor is pleased that I am taking this course but I know that this is just my first step. I want to continue educating myself to better treat my clients. I fully agree that this is a national epidemic and it is only going to get worse before it gets better. People in all professions need to be educated in trauma awareness.
As a manager, I don’t personally work with trauma victims, though the youth workers I manage do everyday. They are based in the ED of a hospital and spend their day surrounded by medical trauma. In addition, they work with young people who have experienced a traumatic event and are often beginning to show signs of PTSD. The section on complex PTSD was particularly relevant for us because we often encounter young people who have been stabbed on more than one occasion, or have been the victim of sexual exploitation on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, we also see young people who have experienced both types of trauma, in addition to poverty, institutionalised racism, etc..
I think domestic violence is one of the leading sources of trauma for children in our country (DV is power and control over others, not just physical violence-think patterns of emotional, psychological, physical, sexual, financial, etc abuse). If 1 in 4 women experience DV, their children do as well. Teachers, courts, etc are not trained to recognize DV, trauma and how it affects children. The ACE study, Saunders study, Quincy model and proposed Safe Child Act are good resources for this.
Thank you! I see mostly development Trauma.. not only misunderstood by their parents/society at times but also professionals who label and exclude from mental health therapy because of ASD diagnoses. But is it ASD is the real question. Fabulous message!
Currently, I don’t exactly know the specific aces that might affect the students I have been working with. I found it helpful to learn about the breadth and variety of experiences of trauma that may impact student’s behavior and the simple reminder that I don’t know the whole story.
I am working with youth at a community foster home. I have experienced children with all these symptoms that have been talked about this far. There are some of my clients I believe may have been diagnosed, as doc said, with ADHD and they are really expressing attentional and behavioral dysregulation. This series is really shedding light on more than what the DSM reads.
thanks for this great course. i see many, many kids with trauma. first, i work in juvenile hall, so i see the dis-regulation and the way the kids struggle. also, working in the public school system in greater Los Angeles, often in communities of poverty, color, and immigrants, there is much trauma. i know from the teachers and administration that a portion of students are homeless or close to being homeless, etc. there is so much complexity for what is playing out for them… i really appreciated the mention of the DNA component to trauma and also family and historical trauma. after this recent election, i have felt fear waves ripple through schools i work at with immigrant populations, it is palpable. not sure what you mean about seeing kids presenting in different ways, other than mentioned. i am sure there are different ways playing out, and i am glad to be getting smarter about it. it reminds me of another training i did with a teacher who said to reframe the idea of “what is wrong with this kid” (that they are acting this way) to “what happened to this kid” (that they are acting this way). i have found that helpful especially when kids are reacting in ways that don’t totally make sense to me, but are having such a strong reaction that it is clear it is coming “from somewhere” and not really a choice for them, more it is something moving through them – a strong emotion, a strong reaction, physical urges… etc.
I work in an education centre for youth linked with the probation services. All of the young people I work with have experienced 10 or more of the ACE’s listed in the DMV 5 as well complex trauma. In many cases, the trauma is intergenerational. Community violence is commonplace. Drug abuse and domestic violence is considered normal. Many of the parents are addicts and several have served time in prison. The neglect and abuse is off the scale. I wondered once during a conversation why a three year old child would need a mobile phone for Christmas and was told “how the f€&@ is her mother supposed to know where she is if she can’t call her?” Children as young as 7 are given a pull off a joint because the teens and adults in charge of them think it’s funny when they get stoned. Car crashes, violent fights (with weapons) suicide attempts ( some successful) are weekly occurrences.
As the trauma is ongoing and considered normal life, it is only in exceptional circumstances that my students experience intrusion symptoms in class. However avoidance, negative world view and hyper arousal are prevalent.
I have a question… could drug abuse be categorised as an avoidance symptom?
I am really happy to have found this course- I have never seen any training in this area and as you can see from my post it is vital! Thank you:)
Great presentation! I really appreciate the expanded definition of trauma, beyond the DSM. I do work with kids who have experiences various forms of trauma, and in fact most of the youth I have been in contact with have had some experience or exposure to trauma, whether emotional abuse or living in a violent community or gang involvement. I feel like oftentimes these complex traumas are misdiagnosed, as the manifestation in behaviours could present as something else (ADHD, mood disorders etc). Everything presented so far makes so much sense. Thank you!
I’ve noticed that a lot of my students have displayed signs of trauma in one way or another. After going through the lessons in this first unit, I’ve deduced that they most of those students may have been facing a time where they had a low level of resilience. These signs they displayed were not presented often, consistently, or extremely. There is one student I have who I would not have thought had any sort of trauma at all because that student is open, conversational, bubbly, thoughtful… everything you would expect from a happy student, even one who has minor special needs (which this student has). I was surprised one day when that student’s special educator came in with a few counselors to have a meeting because that child is now on a suicide watch per request of the parent. The student had been showing signs of extreme depression and self harm to all other relatives and educators. It seems as though he was very engrained in his environment and I created such a positive and accepting climate in my classroom that he had a high level of resilience… until he would have to leave. Is this even possible, I wonder?
I suppose what I have learned is that my strategy for my classroom is working, which is a very good thing. However, it is still important to keep in good communication with every student’s team. I’m very fortunate to have supportive co-workers who are involved and alert.
The teens I work with experience parental divorce/separation, physical/sexual abuse, historical trauma, extreme accidents (brain injury/burns), and so much more. Sometimes I am filled in about a student’s history of trauma by school counselors, but many times I am not or big pieces of the picture are left out. One thing I encounter a lot is resistance in various ways. Physical resistance (moving to do a task as slow as possible/not at all) or more external resistance by not wanting to share at all or sharing a ‘joke’ answer/causing disruptions/making fun of other students. I’m curios to know if there might be any times to trauma is tied to being the ‘class clown’ or bullying? I know one of the students in my class with this behavior deals with a lot of anxiety and feelings of depression and inadequacy. We’ve gotten to connect about it and he’s talked about how not taking anything seriously is his survival strategy. I guess I’m wondering about the connection between coping mechanisms and trauma? When is a coping mechanism tied to trauma, and when is it just part of being human? And does this make any sense?? 🙂
I absolutely think there are times when being a “class clown” can be linked to trauma. I’ve worked with many youth who have been through significant traumas and one of the ways in which they cope or “adapt” is by humor (as a defense mechanism). The key is to learn how to engage such behavior in a skillful way so as to not completely strip the youth of their defense mechanism (it is protecting them) but to help them understand its role in their lives.
And I think your last question is extremely important. As we’ll review in module 3 (Trauma Adaptations) it can be very difficult at times to discern whether or not a defense/coping mechanism is tied to trauma or not, because as you say, having coping/defense mechanisms are a part of being human. What I encourage is to cast a wide net and to look at all behavior via a trauma-informed lens while at the same time not clinging too closely to any conviction of “that is definitely coming from trauma” in the youth you work with, especially if you don’t know their history that closely.
I see a great deal of trauma behaviors in my classrooms and they manifest in just as many ways. I often see interpersonal difficulties in my students in that the behavior of one student will trigger another student and that will explode into a very negative situation for both. As a Behavioral Coach, my ears are always tuned into conversations between the kids to try to prevent anything from escalating. I also see a great deal of avoidant behavior. I made great progress this week with one student in particular that wouldn’t go into one of our classrooms. Through gentle listening and rapport-building, she was finally able to tell me that it was because this particular teacher reminded her of “him” (I am assuming her abuser). This is something she has been extremely hesitant to talk about and am pleased she felt safe and comfortable enough to reveal this to me. This first course has been good foundational information. Thank you!
Catherine of Mindful Teachers,
I was down the hill from the Marathon Bombing. I have gone to the Boston Marathon every year for over 50 year. Since the 1980’s, my “spot” has been below “Heartbreak hill” the last hurdle before the finish. I had no idea about the bombing nor that my daughter and friends were trying to reach me. The phones were cut off. When we arrived home there was a barrage of tongue lashings and messages. We were in shock. My husband would like to see the movie,”Patriot’s Day” , I just can’t. It is too painful for me. I have not been back to the Marathon since and I know that I need to go back.
We work with youth who present with symptoms consistent with complex trauma exposure. Something we see is the trauma in the aftermath of a kid “losing control”. In our rural area, when a kid gets so triggered that they attempt suicide, or lash out in extreme violence against a family member, police are called, kid is taken to the ER, assessed for a 5150, put in an ambulance and sent 3-5 hours away to a psych hospital…a week or so later they come home…the whole experience of losing control, and then losing freedom, is a traumatic event that takes time to heal from. A new traumatic event, on top of underlying symptoms of triggering, likely resulting from past traumatic events…sort of a recursive feedback loop, adding another layer of complexity.
A comment on ACE Questionnaire. Seems like being adopted should be a question, with a score of 1?
I currently work with students who are in a special education classroom setting to address severe behavioral needs. As I reflect on the various types of trauma and the amount that I believe these students have experienced, I am in awe of their resilience. My sense is that each of the students in my classroom can be identified as having Developmental Trauma Disorder. 2 students have survived life threatening health conditions as infants; these students also seem to have significant difficulty with trusting adults and seek to maintain control over themselves and their daily decisions. Some of the studentsI work with have experienced verbal abuse, physical abuse, emotional neglect, separation and/or divorce, domestic violence, exposure to mental illness, and incarceration of a family member. When I am working with my students, I have noticed that I sometimes need to remind myself to not mirror escalating behavior rather to “self-talk” my way to self-control so that I can be therapeutic for the students. Sometimes the best I can do is to sit with them.
A few months ago, I was fortunate to work in a supportive program with at risk youth, many who were on probation. I recall one client who I can now identify his symptom as hypo-arousal. He was consistently sleepy, bored, often drifting in his mental focus, and lacking in his ability to connect. Regarding complex trauma, several of my clients, who had experienced racism, poverty, loss of a parent thru deportation, family drug dealing, street violence, death of a friend or relative, and so on, identified with their Latino culture, their block, their neighborhood, uniting in defiance of the police, which was sometimes viewed by some as another gang. The impact of complex trauma blows me away considering what my clients were up against. I want to help better. And look forward to learning about therapeutic approaches. I am also very moved by Sam pointing out how damaging a shift in one’s world view can be on so many levels – social, academic, relational, and so on – even globally! How fitting for Sam to present this course now! Trauma may be on the rise! Let’s get to work!
I appreciate the overview of trauma and PTSD. It certainly provides a different perspective when one looks at the behavior of others. I’m excited to get to the next module to understand more about the impact on the brain. I’m familiar with neurogenesis, so want more on what we can do to help children rebuild connections.
Thank you ! Great choices on Books! Great researchers.
Within our chid welfare residential program we try to preach this. Great stuff! Love the ACE. Great review and info. We know trauma often has a profound impact on the development of a child’s brain, brain chemistry, and nervous system. We will continue to attempt to illustrate and teach our staff this. I like the insight and highlights of similarities of symptomatologies of ADHH, ODD, DMDD,ect. So many times our kids in state care come to us with these diagnoses and no one has really done a thorough evaluation or screening for PTSD symptoms as we know PTSD symptom mimic many of the the other diagnoses. We know without the appropriate help and support, children will often develop a variety of negative coping responses to traumatic stress. Loved emphasis on ACE and how response to traumatic stress may manifest across multiple domains of functioning and developmental processes, including emotional, behavioral, interpersonal, physiological, and cognitive functioning.
Also loved the touching base on historical trauma as we know it can increase the impact of present day trauma for a family in the child welfare system especially when actions like removal of children serve as triggers or reminders of the historical trauma for parents and family members.
GREAT JOB SAM! Thank you!
I work in an educational setting with students who are aspiring to higher education, most of whom are living in degrees of poverty in rural areas. Food insecurity, family violence and neglect, sexual abuse, divorce & separation, drug abuse & parental incarceration and death are the backdrop of our students’ lives. In addition, we also have a number of students who are refugees of Somalia and Sudan whose families carry with them the trauma of war and life in refugee camps. For many, the community into which they arrived in the US has been unfriendly, if not hostile. When I write all of that, I am reminded of how resilient our students are despite very challenging experiences. A big part of our program is a 6 week residential summer program designed to prepare students academically and socially for college. We strive to create a community of support and encouragement for taking positive risks where students can grow and experience connection with others in a way that is often absent in their life back home. It is truly transformative for them and they refer to each other as a their second family. Despite all of these positives, the environment can be very challenging as students experience a degree of independence for the first time. Many students who have been parentified experience anxiety about how and what their parent(s) is doing back at home and whether they are safe and healthy. Many worry about the safety of younger siblings left behind. I feel like a huge part of what we offer them is an antidote to the negative worldview many have adopted. Ours is a constant message of hope and change, reinforced by positive and healthy relationships based on positive regard and love- something many have not really ever experienced before. This is a great “vacation” for 6 weeks, but students always return to the realities of their lives and sometimes the stark contrast between their experience with us and the stressors and challenges of their “real lives” is heartbreaking for them- and for those of us who invest so much in a vision of a different life. There is a raising of hope and then a great loss upon leaving a community where they have felt seen and valued. Despite their resilience, I am very aware of how fragile their coping mechanisms are and often wish we could offer more in the way of affect regulation and stress management skills. Our residential staff is also very young and charged with sometimes overwhelming responsibilities in supporting students not much older than themselves. They also need support and skills for managing the feelings triggered by their own ACES & vicarious trauma of hearing so many difficult stories. We have tried to incorporate mindfulness practices into our program, including a morning meeting called PACT (practicing awareness and compassion together) that introduces students to practices for calming the mind and body. In addition, we have moved away from more traditional responses to problematic behavior, embracing restorative practices that focus on repairing harm and help to foster connection and empathy for others. Still, we are not a therapeutic program and it sometimes feels like what we offer is just a drop in an ocean of heartbreak.
Thank you for this informative, well-structured course! Especially appreciated the information on complex trauma, historical and intergenerational trauma. In my 25+ years as a social worker, as well as in my own life, I’ve witnessed how this invisible trauma impacts one’s perceptions, emotions and experiences. In one of the groups where I teach mindfulness, a young teen woman from Iran is now unable to return to Iran to see her parents (ticket had been purchased to go over spring break) given the current political shifts. Wouldn’t it be helpful if politicians and policy makers really understood trauma and its impact on the people they serve as well as collective society?
Thank you! I appreciate the concise, organized, easy to follow, incredibly helpful information. With the affluent population I work with most currently, there is trauma related to substance abuse, sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. There are lots of attachment issues, and there are families who are in chaos. I have found, particularly since 9-11 and since the market crash in 2007, there is an added new level of generalized fear – a generalized state of insecurity; that even with education and high paying jobs, they could all be on the street in a moment – as if they are in a constant state of threat. Although not necessarily overtly discussed (except in 2007 after lots of jobs were lost and had in over their head debt), this fear has continued and seems to create and even more intense pressure on the students and institutions, ie – schools in their communities. We have a high suicide rate with parents and students, as well as ‘accidents.’ I don’t know the statistical validity, but it also seems like we have a high rate of cancer and cancer deaths of parents of our young people. I have parents, particularly fathers, who are in jail – a fall from grace, often having played fast and loose with the markets. Some times in prison for white collar crimes but also may have gotten involved in money and the ‘fast’ life of drugs, losing everything – their kids bearing the brunt. There is a tremendous amount of shame/sigma – which also interferes with validation and getting the support they need – and again I have no information on this but it seems to create a kind of secondary trauma? It also some times limits what I can do – families often have the money to obfuscate and the need to cover so their kids or families for that matter, do not see how to or get an opportunity to heal – generational trauma also continues.
My district also seems to be in a phase of complete immobilization, mirroring our community and our world for that matter, fearing public exposure seen as scandalous, and fear of law suits. My role there as a social worker, clinically trained, is in a kind of limbo – it would seem that they trust me to intervene appropriately but are going to limit my reach. I believe that soon, as all of the other social workers in my district have been, I will be formally limited to classroom push in, strictly behavioral focused interventions. Although I do see this as an important part, there is a message growing that we are to be hands off with anything else, or the larger issues ie intervene and support the student and family with trauma -being, probably what they might call too ‘controversial.’ What a message to send! “Sorry kids – the adults are too afraid to step in and help – so carry on – you’re right to feel all that you feel including being unsafe, unable to trust adults, nothing will or can change, and you are not worth it, the risk, etc. ” I wrestle with staying and what I can do in the midst of all of this, and, with not wanting to be a pawn to further harm these young people being a part of this very unhealthy system.
In the state of Illinois, and in many other states, we are also now obligated under Erin’s Law to teach students, K-12 about sexual abuse. I am anticipating the district to have a difficult time dealing with this.
And finally, I am wrestling significantly with my own experience of outrage and the resistance to my district to deal with all that is being widely broadcasted and messaged from the US and it’s new president – We are basically being told to remain hands off with any effort to help our kids make sense of any of it, and to help them find their way through to become civilized human beings, with values to use their privilege and resources, their privilege to help others in need – and not to perpetuate – a racist, biased, oppressive society. They are just kids and are amazingly open hearted – for now… but we are missing a huge obligation, in my mind and soul, to not recognize their confusion and the need to help them navigate this, to share in the responsibility recognize and to support all human dignity. We are currently struggling to be allowed to even address the issues of this generation of discerning marketing, and fake news. We are currently dealing with a lot of significant insensitivity to the groups currently being targeted in our country. Again, my district seems to react not from a place of well being for our students but from a place of fear of exposure and law suits. It has been quite astounding, immensely hurtful and damaging, and I fear we are creating, adding to another generation of white, entitled, ignorant, fearful people who will continue to participate in the oppression of others. (Yes I am just a little bit outraged – I’ve had to really attend to my own self care – it has been very very hard to watch – and lots of feelings of powerlessness and disgust). I am trying to go forward carefully…but some times there is just no being careful.
Sorry – very long one.
Thanks, I found the sessions very information and educational. I work with primary school children at an at-risk school in Belize. The majority of the children live in the neighborhood which is known for it Gang violence. I enjoyed the last session on Beyond PTSD the most as I feel it is really hard to just categorize what we see as just PTSD. We have seen complex trauma, developmental trauma, and intergenerational trauma.
Looking forward to the rest of the month.
Good information, thank you. As a foster/adoptive parent I live with the impact of my children’s trauma (complex/developmental etc) 24/7, and working professionally with other carers/parents, I see how pervasively trauma spreads through the new family system too, especially if CPV – child to parent violence – is experienced, and further reinforced by inadequate awareness and support, and existence of a blame/shame cycle between parents/professionals. It happened to me too in the early days, which is why I now teach about blocked care/secondary trauma. Also, in relation to Carol McBride’s point above, a question parents often hear is “if they were adopted as a baby, why do they still have so many problems?” – which underestimates the degree and impact of trauma experienced IN-UTERO/perinatally, as well as inter-generationally.
Thank you Sam, this has been extremely eye opening for me to have this information, this into to what trauma is. I come into a classroom for 20 min at a time typically 2x/week for 6 weeks and then I am gone. So as a ‘guest’ in the classroom I am not privy to much background on the students. I do know that there is a large amount of our student population that have been exposed to many of the ACE’s you described. As I said earlier I am with my students for such a short period of time and the classroom teacher is typically present so I may witness some disruptions with behavior issues or witness children having extreme distraction issues or simply resistance to participating in our lessons, so with this new information on trauma I feel I’ll begin to look at this behavior in a new way. I look forward to the next Unit.
I have been working with kids with multiple types of trauma, in addition to dealing with complex traumas. I am finding all the information helpful, especially in terms of what trauma is, and possible interventions which can be used. Also found helpful the in depth discussion about PTSD, and using caution when diagnosing our clients. This has given me a good foundation to build on my understanding of trauma. Thank you.
I work with students who have compound and complex impacts from trauma. Homelessness, substance use (self and family), absent parents, role changes–becoming a care giver at a young age, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, poverty, racial oppression, generational trauma, medical events, birth events–becoming teen parents, physical neglect, exposure to mental illness, family member in prison, baby daddy in prison, self incarceration, divorce/separation, community violence, immigration issues, attachment disorders, motor vehicle accidents, and historical trauma.
Have NOT YET really encountered domestic abuse! YAY!!!
Have a new client I suspect has UNDIAGNOSED birth trauma to add to a complex array of traumatic events. Umbilical cord was wrapped. He grew to developed sensory/motor skills issues (writing is hard). Recent Concussion and while at ER witnessed a death, while concussed. Both recent ER incidents from skiing accidents. A year or so out from this, is now having behavioral disorder symptoms as well as a recent suicide attempt (by wrapping a cord around his neck). I suspect undiagnosed; yet unresolved, brain injury (trauma); as part of this trauma complex. Numerous symptoms I’m not listing, indicate C-PTSD, as well as PTSD.
** I am not a medical professional, nor licensed in any way to offer ANY diagnosis. I’m naming what is informing me. LOVE and witnessing.
I have not experienced most of these forms of Trauma through working with kids. The types of trauma I have witnessed include separation, culture shock, depression, and domestic violence. The more involved I become in my community the more I become exposed to with time. I like having the advantage of knowing ow to recognize some of these symptoms before they are presented before me.
Thank you Sam. I found this introduction to trauma and PTSD very helpful. Many students in my classroom have experienced trauma in their childhood and I’m sure some trauma exposure continues today. I’m a teacher’s aide so I don’t know the full extent of my student’s exposure to trauma but I’ve definitely noticed how their upbringings have affected their behavior in the classroom and their reaction to certain situations. One of my students has an exaggerated startle response whenever a man enters the classroom or gets too close to her. Several of my students have minor outbursts when I ask simple requests for them to sit down, stop talking, or concentrate on the task at hand. All of my students have trouble concentrating at times but some definitely more than others. I can see the stress and anxiety build at times when they try to concentrate but are detached at the same time.
I look forward to learning more in the next unit!
As a mindful teacher in the class room, I go into the class room for twenty minutes, twice a week for 6weeks, to teach a lesson and am not privy to the backgrounds of the children. I am aware however aware that the children in the classrooms may be experiencing trauma. This information will help me to be even more mindful of the students and were their behavior may be coming from. The unit on complex trauma was especially interesting to read. Not only as a person working with youth but interacting with people in the world. Thank You, I look forward to continuing.
I work in a continuation high school and many of the students have experienced more than a couple of the situations described on the ACEs questionnaire. Another circumstance that seems should be considered an ACE is when one or more parents live in another country. And death of one or both parents, or a sibling, has a huge impact on a youth’s sense of safety in the world.
I work with youth in Merced who are have trauma from adverse childhood experiences such as poverty, violence in the community, discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, limited English proficiency or disability, incarcerated parents, lack of legal documentation, homelessness or group home situations. Many of the adults in our community working with young people in the nonprofit or public sectors also have high ACE scores.
This week’s information sessions were very informative and insightful. It allows me to be more aware of the reasons why some of the young people I come in contact with act out. In my country community violence is certainly a social issue that is plaguing our communities and definitely affecting our young people. I feel that by the end of this course I will be better able to understand and find more effective ways to better assist them n dealing with their trauma.
A distinction between intergenerational trauma and historical trauma is very helpful. Thank you. I work with youth who, to some degree, have and are experiencing complex trauma. Since most of my clients are children of undocumented immigrants, I have noticed an increase in symptoms since the election took place.
I work mostly with adolescent males that are in correctional facilities or group homes. Most if not all of them have complex trauma histories. The information you shared about complex trauma was helpful, particularly about intergenerational and historical trauma. I’ve always believed this and it was nice to know there is research out there to support it. I’m so glad I found you Sam! I really like your teaching style. You seem so passionate and relatable. I’m in the process of changing jobs right now and I can’t wait to share this website and all of this information with my new co-workers!
Most of my work has been with young people from low-income households/communities and I’ve been thinking a lot about folks living in poverty, which while not inherently an “ACE”, the stress of poverty, housing instability, less access to health care, etc., especially in such a costly area like the Bay Area, can contribute to some of the health outcomes that other ACE’s may also result in. Have any recent studies categorized poverty/ financial hardship under one of the ACE’s? The ACE’s framework is so helpful in doing this work and in expanding the definition of trauma. I also really appreciate the more systems-level perspective which you’ve provided in this course, to look at how trauma can be attributed to oppressive systems, rather than just events, which is another limitation of the DSM. And how many of our systems: law enforcement, and even juvenile halls, some group homes and schools, with which these young people are interacting are perpetuating some of the trauma they or their families have historically experienced (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc). Hence, the critical need for more trauma-informed providers within these systems!
The 1st module has been a great introduction to ACE’s, Trauma defined & expanded & PTSD. The material covered in module one is deeply and profoundly rooted in the experiences and lives of the youth I work with on a daily basis. In Fact, as Dr. Sam Himelstein describes a few of his own patients & their situations & reactions in module 1 it was as if I was hearing Dr. Sam Himelstein describe some of the very youth I work with – to me this is convincing evidence just how universal & relevant the material covered in module 1 is whenever working with those unfortunately living with ACE’s, Trauma and PTSD. You have my attention Dr. Sam Himelstein & I am very much looking forward to the information coming in the next modules as I am eager to learn tools for coping with ACE’s, Trauma & PTSD & helping us all move forward in Life!!!!
Working in an often chaotic and vicariously traumatising Emergency Department setting I found myself particularly identifying with the description of Complex PTSD. Many of the young people myself and my team of Youth Workers encounter carry with them layers of unprocessed trauma. Very often we meet young people for whom this is not their first experience of violence of extreme threat. I was fascinated by the discussion around Inherited Trauma and will certainly be ordering a copy of ‘It Didn’t Start With You’ as well as ‘Trauma and Recovery’ in order to do some further reading.
* violence OR extreme threat
Unfortunately, children I work with have endured many of the traumas you have discussed. I think that children being removed from their parents is very traumatizing, even if it is the safest thing for them. Two other traumas we see, trauma from the school—I notice the ACE questionnaire refers primarily to people in your household, while I have children who are berated, restrained, secluded in their school environments, and we also see medical trauma–special needs children often go through many painful and/or scary procedures/events—traumatizing the child and very often the family as well.
As an attorney in an adverserial setting representing clients who have been exposed to multiple traumatic events throughout the course of their lifetime, and as a result suffer from this exposure, the difficulty is getting others – i.e. courts, juries, prosecutors – to acknowledge the existence of trauma effects and the mitigation flowing from that individual’s life history. Module 1 did a great job at explaining trauma and its effects both in terms of layman’s language and with the varying examples of what it would look like in real life. With my clients, I see additional exposures to trauma that flow from being in the criminal justice system: rejection by family/loved ones, loss of home/partners/employment/children, mistreatment by individuals in positions of power, isolation, solitary confinement, having to be vigilant due to threats of violence in jails/prisons, public shame, and being (and feeling) de-humanized by the system itself.
As a mentor for a nature-based therapeutic mentoring program, I work with youth who have had complex trauma exposure, with multi-layered trauma experiences. They have directly experienced verbal and physical abuse. In the household, they have experienced divorce and separation, domestic violence, alcoholism, and drug use. They have witness or heard of verbal, physical and sexual abuse to family members and/or friends. In addition, they have experienced historical and systematic traumas associated with racisms and classism.
I work in the general education setting. I have notice more trauma induced behaviors. The hard part is teaching the students that at home you have one set of survival skills and at school there is yet another.
.. this has been SO very helpful in regard to attempting to clarify, and also confirming the idea of Complex Trauma. in our school community…. The kids I work with now… i would say the current phrase ´afflu-enza¨is a pertinent description…. which is further exaceerbated by both systemic and historical trauma, which I believe leads to distorted cognition (self balance) and diminished interest in significant activites… Bottom line I feel there is MUCH emotional Confusion as a product of the many kinds of ACES these kids are experiencing.
1) Verbal abuse-(psychological) What still happens now is that there is a LOT of verbal threatening, (yelling) however there is rarely any follow thru–so the idea of ownership and responsibility of ones actions, living the consequences, is not an important goal. However the student is left with the feeling of being humiliated in front of their peers.
2) Emotional Neglect: I feel that ,a) children´s and especially adolescents and teens TRUE feelings and opinions are not discussed or honored, and if spoken out loud they are often ridiculed. = low self esteem and goal achievement, at times met with blank gaze and ¨selective muting¨.b) The children react by ridiculing or humilating other kids, often in secretive underhanded ways which are difficult to catch.
3) Relational Trauma/attachment: Lying and manipulation is considered acceptable therefore there is, a) more confusion, detachment, ie; Kids aren´t sure WHO they can really trust, b) they learn it´s OK to lie, exaggerate, blame or cheat.
3) Divorced or Separated families,a) Playing Favorites: Parents try to bribe their kids by giving them material goods, so the parent who has less, USUALLY the mother, is not up to par, creating loyalty attachment conflict, 3) Kids learn to manipulate the parents early by ¨guilt tripping¨ them into letting them have things, or giving them free reign.(Mom let´s us…)
4) Classism´/Racism: a) Kids who do not come from the affluent families, who are usually on scholarships OR are the kids of the teachers act out to show that they are cool if not with slots of stuff but with behaviors, b) snobbism, ie, if you do not have a certain brand of shoes , creating shame and humiliation— I am surprised that this is not mentioned although I guess shame coud be under Low self esteem., b) Kids who are darker skinned usually Indigenous in Mexico) are considered not as smart or are ssumed poor.
5) Sexism:(BOTH genders)…. Mexican Boys are often sheltered and over-protected, esp. by their Moms, so ´act out in school to show they are ¨men¨. One of the ways unfortunate ways they act out is making fun of the girls. This caused the girls to NOT speak freely in front of the boys for fear of ridicule and/or derision.OR will be subserviant and ´help¨ them, causing the boys to often be quite helpless.
6) Community violence/ Repeated exposure: all the cities here are controlled by one drug gang or another and occasionally there are shoot outs, multiple murders (executions) and bombs near the school. Instead of this being addressed (ie; what can be done is case of..) it is often avoided OR made into an exaggerated tale, making it easier to detach from the actual reality of it.
… So the ¨emotional confusion¨, as the results of Complex Traumas, I perceive in this school environment manifests itself in: shame/humiliation, emotional manipulation, superficial interaction and lack of personal genuineness (¨true sense of self-ness¨) , acceptance of duplicity/deception, inabiity to self-regulate/ self monitor due to lack of real-life role modeling, strong values and consistent supervision, and collateral and retaliatory verbal/ emotional abuse,sometimes leading to physical aggression; both known as ¨bullying¨.
As a high school teacher, I see a lot of C-PTSD and Developmental Trauma Disorder in my students and these are the students who open up to me (I recognize the signs in others but there is a thin line between knowing and assuming and then being incorrect about one’s assumption). I guess that’s why Im taking the course. I’ve definitely seen all ACEs present in my classroom and I’ve witnessed firsthand the negative toll it takes on the brain and learning.
A new trauma I’m seeing is this systematic or collective trauma on teens brought on by the election (of course, its brought on us adults too, but we hope are more emotionally stable and mature enough to handle it). Teenagers (school is predominately minorities) are already in a vulnerable state when it comes to their identities and when you have a president who is signing executive orders against certain groups of people…a lot of these students see it as an attack on their identities and who they are as a person, and they are not handling it or processing it well. There has been quite a number of hypervigilant type of behavior in the classrooms and halls after the election. How do we tackle the trauma being induced by current day politics?
Although I have taken several courses on trauma & yoga, and am familiar with Bessel’s work, the foundational knowledge you provided on Trauma &PTSD from a clinical perspective were very helpful in framing traumatic experiences and how they may show up(or not) in the classroom. I am teaching mindfulness in brief time frames(30-60 min/week for 8 weeks), so building connections needs to be done creatively. I am grateful for these teachings and look forward to learning more in the coming weeks.
Thank you so much for the nuts and bolts of trauma in Module 1. I really thought it was thorough and a really great starting point. I particularly appreciated looking beyond the DSM criteria and looking at signs and specific incidents or more nuanced experiences that aren’t typically considered trauma. I’m looking forward to next week!
I typically see adolescent females with sexual assualt as their primary trauma.
I thoroughly enjoyed the 1st module, it felt like refresher from what I have learned thus far in class. I work with patients with severe mental illness in a psychiatric hospital, and sadly almost everyone I see has dealt with some type of trauma in their childhood or adolescents. What I deal most with is childhood sexual trauma. I am excited to move on to the second module!
You covered most of the trauma I see. Your description of attentional and behavioral dysregulation was very helpful. I have a student currently who is possibly misdiagnosed with ADHD and ODD. This shed some light on how his outbursts of anger may be coming from past trauma.
I don’t remember you talking about self-sabotaging behaviors in social situations in the way I am thinking of. I have a student who has been sexually abused, and she struggles with making friends or trying to be nice to others (socially appropriate). She will occasionally reach out to make friends, but usually follows up with a behavior like taking a ball away from another student. So in a way she self-sabotages her initial attempts at being friendly or socially appropriate.
The majority of the students that I work with have experienced multiple ACEs. I use the DSM to diagnose, as it is necessary in my role, and I have been frustrated with the lack of dimension in the Trauma and Stressor section. I appreciate your expanded/revised definition of trauma as I too feel that many of the students I see do not fit the full criteria for PTSD, although trauma has shaped who they feel they are and how they behave. I hope that the section does get revised to encompass what clinicians working with youth are seeing, but as long as we are treating what we are seeing with an expanded understanding of the experience and impact, the diagnostic “label” we give it is less important.
When working with community mental health, labeling children and adolescents with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Disruptive Disorder, Conduct Disorder, PTSD, or ADHD, are very common practices, yet these labels often limit the clinician’s ability to provide effective treatment plan. Knowing the complexity of the trauma through its individual and collective aspects can greatly increase the chance toward recovery. The high risked youth that come to the community agencies pretty much fall within all the trauma categories described. If only community agencies can utilize trauma informed care as it’s center core and incorporate more help from the family, then there is light at the end of the tunnel to break the cycle of trauma.
I am excited to hear that research is uncovering new aspects of trauma. I recognise complex trauma and complex PTSD in the male and female gang populations with whom I have worked. It is important to note that the work on trauma is evolving and that practice is informing the development of new definitions and concepts of trauma. I can especially relate to the concept of trauma as having been impacted by the collective consciousness of a people and a community. The structural trauma is very real in Belize, especially in communities with known gang affiliations in which shootings and murders are commonplace and in which parents are detached and often in and out of prison. I am concerned that most of our interventions to the crime and violence in our streets, mostly perpetuated by our youth, do not follow the trauma logic model and are mostly completely ineffective. Belize is in the process of developing a new citizen security policy and plan and I am hoping to bring a trauma informed perspective into the planning process.
Thank you so much for this first section, I found it useful and enlightening. I see a lot of this behavior as a program coordinator and it is useful to have more of a vocabulary for it. Most of the students I work with have many ACEs and complex trauma and I am looking forward to learning more about these behaviors so I can be more mindful when I am planning outings and curriculum for them.
I found the concept of complex trauma really enlightening. Although there are times in which one or two key traumatic events seem to spark many symptoms, looking at the big picture and taking into account all the factors that feed into the overall health of the person makes total sense. We are all a sum of our parts. This has been a great class so far. Definitely presents a broader, more expanded outlook than many of the traditional psychology courses I’ve taken before. Look forward to continuing on!
I’ve come across all the ACEs in my students, as my school serves a high poverty population with the attendant circumstances. Many students live with one parent or a guardian who may not even be a family member due to circumstances ranging from abandonment, deportation, or imprisonment. Certainly, several have experienced neglect even while living with both parents because of substance abuse and other situations related to poverty. Just today I heard of a student who attempted suicide by taking a large number of pills with alcohol and now suffers from psychotic episodes. That teen has two younger siblings living at home with him. Talk about family trauma!
The youth I work with are suffering from trauma and attachment disorders laregely as a result of abandonnment, sexual abuse, neglect and physical abuse. All instances of trauma with these young people have been touched on/mentioned/discussed throughout this week’s material. Thanks for all the references for different resources! I plan to get a couple ooks, one which you mentioned, and so far this has been very interesting and helpful to understand traumas better. Especially with the discussion of complex trauma, because I cannot think of one person who I work with that has suffered only one trauma. Looking forward to the rest of the course!
Most of the youth we work with in our school have experienced many of these ACEs. One trauma experience that my students work through that is not mentioned in being in Foster Care. Although some homes are wonderful and the parents are there for the kids, others are not so much. The students are being moved from one place to another unsure about their safety and with little control of their environment. I think this impacts students in a huge way.
As a mindfulness instructor I come in contact with all different kinds of people, but as a teacher I am currently mainly working with refugees from Syria. They are teenagers and some came here without their parents. I have one in particular which seems to suffer tremendously at the moment. She misses many school days and reports that on those days she feels so sick that she cannot move. She is also tired very often. I think it all stems from traumatic experiences. I am grateful for the information offered here and for the bits of insight I get into the topic – it helps me find ways to better understand where my kids are coming from.
I am a teacher, and therefore don’t always know which traumas my kids have suffered unless it’s part of their educational records (e.g., IEPs that are for PTSD due to domestic violence). I can infer some things from overhearing conversations and from the things the kids tell me, and would say I’ve heard at every single trauma mentioned, with exception to burns, unnatural disasters, and mass shootings. The one kind of trauma that wasn’t mentioned, and which is rarely mentioned in education itself, is eduacational trauma. We’re slow to locate the trauma we witness in the classroom in an educational context, but if kids (particularly kids with learning disabilities or emotional dysregulation struggles) have experienced being singled out or mistreated *at* school, their response can be just as much about being in this setting as it is about any external traumas they’ve experienced.
The youth in our facility are exactly the youth discussed in the material presented. They present with many behavioral issues but underlying it all is complex trauma histories. I have always felt that the behaviors were being driven by trauma but have struggled to make youth fit into the PTSD dx. Listening to the material presented in Beyond Trauma brought the whole thing into perspective for me and made a great deal of sense. Someone earlier talked about a lightbulb going on about trauma symptoms mimicking ADHD symptoms and I totally agree. Thank you so much for pulling all the materials together in an informative way that really shred light on the subject. The one trauma I never hear anyone talk about is the one that I believe can be associated with being a perpetrator of violence. Most of our youth are gang involved and as such have been involved in perpetrating violence against others. These youth are schooled by older gang members in how to not let the violence they do and see effect them, but the truth is it does. My experience in working with these youth is that what appears to be a callous, violent and anti-social attitude is for many a coping mechanism for managing all the violence in their lives. When you are able to reach down below the surface, it is apparent that many of these young men are traumatized by the violence they perpetrate and I would add that to the list of adverse events that lead to complex trauma.
The youth that I work with is clearly in a deep and complex trauma pattern. They have received multiple diagnosis ranging from Major Depressive Disorder and ADHD – all while also having a diagnosis of PTSD. It’s increasingly challenging to navigate as they begin to deeply identify with their diagnoses, as a way to explain away the way they experience life. The over-labeling of children with a wide array of personality and behavior disorders is so staggering, and it creates fertile ground for struggle toward a meaningful life in which they are their own person – not a list of diagnoses. It’s clear in the way they carry their bodies, how they reach out or contract, the sadness in their eyes and the shallowness of their breath. Children that have always been in a struggle for stability and safety. Thank you for naming all of the ways in which this trauma shows up for us in relationship with these youth. It’s important to continue to zoom out and see the webs that connect us all.
We see youth in our youth group who have experienced individual events resulting in trauma, e,g, the suicide of a parent and murder of a sibling. One youth has a parent in prison and lives with a grandmother. I suspect that others experience emotional and some physical neglect. I believe there may also be some intergenerational trauma and perhaps even some historical trauma.
I’m so grateful for this information, and I’m really finding all the material very helpful to bring to the forefront of my mind. The students I worked with most recently has histories of trauma and complex trauma involving violence in their community and home, immigration and deportation, emotional neglect or inconsistent care from an adult, and multiple moves between homes and schools.
I work with a variety of youth who have experienced a range of traumatic experiences, often complex trauma. Many of the youth I work with have lived with caregivers with substance use disorders, who may have been neglected in various ways, have relational trauma (some have been removed from the home to foster homes, in itself a traumatic event, etc.), some have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, community violence, loss of parent to prison, and divorce. Many also experience historical trauma as well as other intergenerational traumas. As part of systemic trauma, many also experience “insidious trauma” (i.e. micro aggressions) on a regular basis.
I work with students in Washington, DC. Most often their trauma relates to their home environment (exposure to dangerous neighborhoods, being exposed to drugs or alcohol in their home, physical discipline, family separation).
I work with at risk youth in the juvenile system, as well as in the school setting. I see a lot of the complex trauma with multi layered issues that have gone on (sexual assault, emotional abuse, homelessness, physical assault. etc. I then work 2 days a week at the county jail with women who are opiate addicts and I would say 90% of the women fall under the category of PTSD and Complex trauma. Using to mask the underlying issue.
I appreciated the background and definitions in week one. In my work I often find myself wondering if anyone can avoid trauma? Or, is the responding and recovery related to resiliency. I work with youth 13-21. Many are wards of the state, several just out of long-term 1-2 year lock up, immigrants, sex offenders, gang members, etc. I am often amazed at the complexities of trauma in their lives and the impact at such young ages. The “you don’t know me” responses really guard much of the underlying stress, adjustment, abandonment, and abuse as there is a perception that they are the only one and everyone else grew up with ‘two parent and white picket fence’. I am also amazed every time I take my own ACES and reflect on my own growth and development and how I got where I am.
Powerful session, I listen to the videos twice because so much of what was shared applies to almost all of my youths, domestic abuse, neglect, separation the fact that I’ve had to deal with youth whom had attempted suicide but were rescued in time, youths who see their partners/significant partner not as their lady but as their enemy. Thanks so much Sam I am a sponge soaking up all that you are sharing with us.
I currently work for Harlem Lacrosse and am based in a public school in NYC (Harlem). We specifically target at-risk youth from low-income areas and I often find myself seeing trauma pop up in students in different ways and for different reasons. I love all the various definitions, especially with racial and historical which is so critically important and often times over-looked, as well as the stress of living in poverty. I loved reading through some of the comments and hearing some people’s different experiences and many brought up great points. Very useful and great information!
I’m a bit behind in the course, but ironically it’s due to having an extra workload with youth in crisis. The youth I work with have extremely high ACE scores and the vast majority demonstrate ALL the symptoms of trauma, and many show behaviors related to complex PTSD. The video, Beyond Trauma, was so enlightening for me. I found myself nodding my head and exclaiming out loud while watching it because the behaviors are so prevalent with my students. It really helped to be reminded that even seemingly unrelated things like random outbursts of rage at a small thing, may very well be a result of their trauma exposure. It helps me reevaluate my intervention and support methods.
Thank you – that was informative and eye opening! The teens that I have worked with at the residential treatment center have gone through all kinds of trauma. Kids who have seen and/or experienced poverty, gang violence, drugs, sex trafficking, physical/emotional/sexual abuse.
I don’t know what any of their individual diagnoses are – but this course is giving me a deeper understanding of some of their behaviors, and can help me to create art workshops to help them to express or release some the things that are inside them.
Working as a mindfulness facilitator in an alternative high school, I’m around students with all kinds of trauma. I particularly appreciated the focus on inter-generational trauma in this presentation, and as I get to know students better, I earn that so many of my students with trauma come from parents and family with a long history of trauma. As a white, male teacher, I also encounter situations where it’s clear a student is triggered or their PTSD heightened simply because of my race and/or gender. I’m looking forward to becoming more aware of these situations and practicing ways to engage with young people who are dealing with trauma.
Sorry for my delay in participating! I had a sick toddler and husband, and then a sick me! I have predominantly worked with inner city youth in school settings. Most were considered “highly at risk”, were minorities and lived in low socioeconomic communities. This introduction brought me back to my 10 years of working with these kids and hearing their stories. Abuse was prevalent with my kids, verbal, physical and sexual. The manner in which they spoke to each other as a family was considered verbal abuse, but that was they way the were used to being talked to and most often why they either shut down or exploded when being yelled at or criticized by a teacher. There was a cultural piece often attached to physical abuse which always needs to be taken into consideration when you’re working with children and their families. The other themes that were extremely prevalent in the students I worked with were and incarcerated family member, community violence, drug use and abuse, and systemic trauma. My time with my students was always spent giving them a safe space for what they needed at that moment, consistency (which they rarely had), patience and understanding, We worked a lot on communication skills (how to put their feelings into words), coping skills and anxiety and anger reduction.
Common exposures among youth in the schools I work with in Oakland and Richmond, CA include: exposure to domestic and community violence, historical trauma, intergenerational trauma, physical and sexual abuse, someone in the home with an addiction to substances, and the myriad of exposures that result from immigration.
The youth I work with have often experienced drug and/or alcohol abuse in their family, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse and domestic violence. They also have a history of experiencing their own mental illnesses as well as members of their family.
The youth I work with predominately are survivors of physical and sexual abuse. Many times by family members or close friends.
Primary the trauma I am noticing with youth is in relation to domestic violence. As my interaction with them is in the role of a guest teacher my knowledge of their histories is extremely limited. In another role, when I am working with adults, I am also seeing trauma related to physical accidents resulting in life changing personal injury and the impact of those accidents on the individual as well as family members. Separately, I find it interesting and frustrating that the ACEs questions related to domestic violence inquire only about physical violence.
Working with young people who have been victims of serious violence in a trauma unit and clinical work in a school setting, with children who have suffered some form of trauma – there is a clear link between ADHD diagnoses and trauma/PTSD like histories. This begs the question, have these children been fully screened for trauma before an ADHD diagnoses was reached.
I am not currently working with children in this population but in the past trauma I have worked with is neglect, physical and sexual abuse and homelessness. Currently I would say what I deal with in terms of trauma are the parents of the children I teach. What I see present is a lot of survival mode reactions, anxiety and high stress.
The majority of youth we work with are Black, Latino and Hispanic who live in communities with high rates of crime, who are disadvantaged. They would fall under the category of having experienced Complex and Intergenerational Trauma. I found the information relevant to our work with the youth. We follow a trauma informed care approach and have a referral system in place to assist youth in accessing treatment.
I work with students who have experienced a variety of trauma in their lives. Many have sustained and continued to experience physical and sexual abuse. Others are living in homes with chronic stress and anxiety due to financial stress, emotional abuse, substance abuse, and divorce or absent parents.
Beyond Trauma was very informative. I work at a Crisis Residential Treatment setting for TAY clients who are currently experiencing mental health crisis. We are currently the only one in the state of California with more opening up in the future. Most of our clients come from 5150 hospital holds and I can’t even begin to share how Developmental Trauma Disorder plays a role. I consistently see “kids” coming in with long history of abuse, foster care and poverty that get misdiagnosed because previous therapist and psychiatrist are focusing solely on the current crisis and not what has occurred in their lifetime.
In my work as a social worker, I interact with adolescents who have experienced varying degrees and instances of trauma. Some of my students have a history of abuse or neglect. Others have experienced homelessness and extreme poverty, and some are survivors of sexual abuse. Developmental trauma disorder is a significant issue for this population of students.
Also in working with children of color, especially in the classroom setting, I can see the impacts of historical trauma, as these children have been forced to absorb and live the trauma of previous generations.
The description of hypoarousal was particularly helpful to a recent experience and one I hadn’t encountered before. It’s so important for teachers or anyone working in classrooms to recognize that behavioral outbursts, or behavioral shutdowns, can be a direct response to triggers, not a behavioral issue, because we can then respond differently and hopefully more constructively.
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