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Education Session: February 15, 2017

Derailing Early Childhood Trauma

Trauma-informed care, incorporated into services across a community, can create significantly better outcomes for affected young children. This was the key message delivered by Dr. Joan Gillece at the February 15th education program, “Derailing Early Childhood Trauma,” held at the Friends Meeting House in Annapolis.  Eighty AAWGT members and community guests, many of them active professionals in the field, participated in the program.  

Dr. Gillece began by defining the term “trauma” and discussing the “three E’s” that are used to understand it:  events/circumstances in a person’s life; the way in which those events are experienced by that particular individual; and the effects (sometime lifelong and debilitating) on that person’s health and well-being. She talked about how important it is in trauma-informed treatment approaches to ask the question of what happened to an individual, understanding that his/her symptoms are adaptations to trauma and that healing happens within relationships. Using the ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) framework, she emphasized the dramatic impact that trauma of all kinds can have on children and stressed that treatment must be shaped so that it does not further traumatize a child. Dr. Gillece shared a short animated video to illustrate how a trauma-informed, empathic approach differs from other treatments, and described success stories in communities throughout the country, including a city-wide program being led by the mayor of Tarpon Springs, Florida, and special efforts in Baltimore.

As a long-time Annapolis resident, Dr. Gillece issued a call to action to those living and working in Anne Arundel County to establish our own community-wide trauma-informed program, a call that was met with much enthusiasm from attendees.  AAWGT distributed contact information for additional local and national resources and audience members were encouraged to network and collaborate to bring this program to our local children. Please click here for a list of organizations represented at the meeting.

Dr. Joan Gillece is Director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Center for Trauma Informed Care and Director of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors’ Center for Innovation in Trauma-Informed Approaches

Dr. Gillece’s presentation slides are available for viewing here.

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