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Becoming A Trauma-Informed Organization

Updated: Apr 7, 2020

With a mission to help older Americans age in place, based on individual choice and preference, Olympic Area Agency on Aging (O3A) has taken steps towards better understanding their clients. O3A is making an organizational shift based on science and compassion by providing opportunities for their entire staff to learn about Trauma-Informed Care, an understanding and recognition of the presence of trauma symptoms and the way it impacts an individual’s life.

Kitsap Strong recently hosted SaintA’s Trauma-Informed Care: Train the Trainer workshop. In attendance was O3A’s Program Manager, Ingrid Henden. Henden is now a certified trainer and is equipped with the experience and tools necessary to lead Trauma-Informed Care workshops for all O3A branches. The workshops are full day trainings covering the basics of Trauma-Informed Care, including an introduction to the way the brain develops, functions, and recovers from trauma. Information and techniques are presented to trainees in engaging ways to prompt discussion. By going to each branch and offering these workshops, O3A encourages a common language, culture, and cohesive practice when it comes to implementing this approach in their work.

“It’s an organizational change that we need to make. And a community change we need to make.” - Jody Moss, Contracts Management & Planning Director at O3A

Why Trauma-Informed Care?

The SaintA Trauma-Informed Care methodology focuses on “Seven Essential Ingredients”: prevalence, impact, perspective shift, regulation, relationship, reason to be, and caregiver capacity. When combined, these ingredients present an approach to Trauma-Informed Care that is rooted in both a philosophical and practical standpoint.

The perspective shift exercises were especially impactful for both Henden and Moss. The curriculum asks trainees to watch a video clip featuring a silhouetted dancer spinning in a circle, and then they are asked to report which direction the dancer was rotating. Though everyone was watching the same clip, Henden shared that there was disagreement among the participants, as different people perceived the movement differently. The group then wrestled with the challenge of trying to shift their personal perspective and look at something from someone else’s view.

Photo Owned by Kitsap Strong