Message from the Trauma Based Behavioral Health Fellowship Director

Roger Fallot said it best, “A trauma-informed service system or organization is one that thoroughly incorporates, in all aspects of service delivery and in all staff, an understanding of the prevalence and impact of trauma and the complex paths to healing and recovery. Trauma-informed services are designed specifically to put “safety first” and to avoid re-traumatizing those who come seeking assistance.”

I am honored and extremely humbled to be able to welcome you to the Trauma Based Behavioral Health Fellowship.  This training program was designed to train master’s level students who have a clinical interest of study in evidence-based practices, built on scientific research about how the bodies and brains of individuals are wired to respond to treatment.  The didactic and experiential training allows for the Trauma Fellow to prepare and provide individualized levels of treatment based on assessment measures, clinical supervision, client participation, integrated care with a team of medical and behavioral health providers and available treatment modality. The Trauma Based Behavioral Health Professional Training Team is comprised of dedicated professionals from the community with expertise in their fields with over 100 years combined years of clinical experience.
To date, the program has graduated 98 Trauma Based Behavioral Health Fellows who are working all over our region to serve the most vulnerable populations.

The advances in the field of trauma-informed practice over the last 25-30 years have reflected a paradigm shift in how we think about mental illness, addictions and how we should diagnose clients who may be suffering with developmental trauma disorder/complex trauma.  The growth in public and professional awareness of the prevalence and impact of trauma over a lifespan, and specifically early childhood, have sparked studies like the Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACE study, a critical body of knowledge for all professionals working with people. The ACE study challenges our thinking in the healthcare and behavioral health industry to look at each individual, not as a social problem or a deviant, but as a person who may need assistance in processing childhood trauma to reduce trauma symptoms.

This year, we have chosen 34 graduate social work and rehabilitation counseling students to embark on a rigorous journey to learn the knowledge, skills and values to assist individuals who have experienced various forms of trauma in their lives. Research shows that evidence-based treatment models such as Prolonged Exposure, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Trauma-Focused CBT, Parent-Child Interactive Therapy, Play Therapy for Traumatized, among others work to help reduce trauma symptoms such as anxious arousal, depression, anger, irritability, intrusive thoughts, sexual aggression and many others often counteracted in individuals by avoidance, dissociation, self-injury, drug and alcohol abuse and or other unhealthy coping mechanisms. Studies show that when the right treatment intervention is used, individuals can see a major reduction in these symptoms and can increase life function often without self-medication.  This trauma-informed model helps clients to learn about the nature of trauma, use skills learned in each session to reduce symptoms, reflect on distorted thought processes, and take responsibility for their recovery.   Instead of asking a client, “What is wrong with you?” the trauma-based clinician will ask “what happened to you”

I would also like to welcome the Federally Qualified Health Centers to our team! This year we were awarded a supplemental grant that allowed us to take 10 additional students who will be placed at one of three FQHC sites. Those sites are Shawnee Health, Christopher Rural Health Corporation and Anna Rural Health Inc. Together we will train as medical/behavioral health teams on behavioral health practices with a focus on Opioid and Substance Use Disorders (OSUDS Fellows).  In turn, our OSUDS Fellows will also be trained on the Medically Assisted Treatment Model and other Medical/Chronic Healthcare conditions.

Welcome to the new cohort of Fellows and congratulations to our graduated Fellows! I look forward to what they will do with their new knowledge and skills. Many of them have already been offered jobs in the clinical field because of their new knowledge and skill set. We have so many individuals who need our help to understand ACES and how it is related to where they may currently be in life.  Being able to assist in this project, to give the tools to the Fellows, to help children and families have hope and healing is a great blessing to me! I look forward to what the next cohort of Fellows will bring to the table and how they will assist clients who have trauma in their lives.
-Ginger Meyer