A Trauma-Informed Drop-In Transition

Nov 14, 2019 | by Jenn Harvey

Have you heard the exciting news? The STOP-IT Drop In Center is moving!

We have immense gratitude for the people and places that have supported us in providing a physical space for our use within their own. Our current center has been home to our program for several years and we are thankful for the hospitality!

While we are grateful for these partnerships and the generosity of those who have welcomed our program in, it has been our program’s long-term goal to be in a space that we can permanently call our own.

As we prepare to say goodbye to what has been and plan for what will be, we are using this time of transition to create space for our program participants to lead the way.

 

 

While this change is a positive opportunity, a season of change in it of itself can be difficult, scary, and triggering for anyone to experience, especially if trauma is part of someone’s history or present reality.

Often times when there is trauma beginning in the early stages of development, it is difficult for individuals to form secure attachment and gain a sense of what healthy and life giving relationships look like. Rather, individuals may form insecure, anxious, or disorganized attachment styles and can therefore find it challenging to trust the world we live in.

In discussing coping in the face of change, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Robyn Brickel (2019), shares, “It can be much more difficult for a trauma survivor to feel comfortable with a new place, person or situation when the body interprets change as danger. That’s because trauma is an experience that alters the way a person’s brain, emotional energy, and nervous system responds to an event, an action, a person or even a smell or a sound. After trauma, many people find they react much more strongly or quickly to a familiar awareness that something is dangerous or even different than it was before”

Therefore, in all of our services we attempt to be transparent and provide clarity around what to expect and approach engagement with participants with as much consistency as possible. If we say we will be there or say we will do something, we always try to meet that expectation each and every time in our service provision.

Brickel (2017) informs that “Consistency is an important quality in all approaches to treating trauma. Through consistency, trauma can be repaired and heal”

In light of changing locations, we will naturally see a disruption in our ability to provide consistency for our program participants. We are intentionally pressing into additional aspects of trauma informed care to create a sense of safety.

Choice, Collaboration, Empowerment:

In the past month we have offered a series of focus groups for our drop in participants to engage in if they choose. These focus groups were designed for our program to gain a greater sense of what participants wish to see in regards to atmosphere, programming, and aesthetics in our new location. Our participants shared exciting and innovative ideas that will improve the quality of services moving forward. Our focus groups have asked participants to share their thoughts on the following questions:

  • What concerns or questions do you have about the move?
  • What do you want the space to look like?
  • What ideas do you have for the space?
  • What should the vibe be?
  • How do you talk about the space to your friends?
  • How would you describe the space?
  • What is the space currently doing well?
  • What is the purpose of the space?

When consistency is not possible and change is unavoidable, having increased choice and the power to speak your opinions can not only create a sense of control amidst transition, but a sense of agency and collaboration.

With this feedback, our aim is that STOP-IT will be more equipped to create a program that serves our participants and that our participants will have a greater sense of ownership, purpose, and control over this new space.

In the next phase of transition, our participants will continue to collaborate in teams with one another and staff in making practical decisions about what the new décor should look like, what meals we will share, and what we will do to honor our time spent in our current space and say goodbye as a group.

We are so excited to learn more about what our participants want in programming at drop-in and hope to create a new space that represents their valuable insight and ideas.

Sources:

 

Brickel, R.E. (2019). Coping with change: Feeling safe as a trauma survivor. Retrieved from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/imperfect/2019/06/coping-with-change-feeling-safe-as-a-trauma-survivor/

Brickel, R.E. (2017). Why consistency is a powerful force for healing trauma. Retrieved from          https://brickelandassociates.com/consistency-powerful-approach-to-treating-trauma/

OCV TTAC, (n.d). Using a trauma-informed approach. Retrieved from https://www.ovcttac.gov/taskforceguide/eguide/4-supporting-victims/41-using-a-trauma-informed-approach/


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