The TTN 2021 Annual Fall Conference entitled “Building a Legacy Beyond Trauma-Informed Care: Bridging Historical with Current Practices” took place a week ago today on October 26, 2021, but it honestly feels like it was yesterday, as the effects of it are rippling through every day since for me. We had 177 people join us via Zoom for this momentous day where passions were ignited, minds were opened, and ideas and struggles with implementing trauma-informed care were shared amongst participants and speakers. Several people who have been fans of TTN’s Annual Fall Conferences, attending for most if not all the 7 years of it so far, stated this was the best year yet. I felt it, but that was just me, the host, I could have been biased; thus I was thrilled to hear that our network participants felt the same! In fact one attendee commented “7th Year is the Charm for sure.”- April Barker-Casey, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Another said, “Fabulous conference!! Thanks to all of you for all the hard work it takes to make this happen!! Looking forward to the 8th Annual being even better 😊” – Jenny Berndsen, Every Child Succeeds.
We had the privilege of starting our day with the incredible words of wisdom from Dr. O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., MPH, a groundbreaking physician, educator, and valued leader in Cincinnati. Dr. Owens combined his lifelong love of science and his desire to help people into a successful career in medicine. He welcomed our members to the conference and shared why he pushed his team at Interact for Health to fund TTN with more grant money than asked for when TTN was in a financial crisis due to COVID last year. “You’ve done so much with so little…you had to survive. We needed you on the other side of COVID and we are so glad you’re still here…there is much work to be done.”
Trauma and PTSD: A survivor’s journey with breast cancer and trauma
Following O’dell’s motivating words, we heard from Dr. Rama Kasturi, who for the first time ever, shared her personal experience of trauma/PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) related to her multi-year breast cancer journey. Rama almost poetically, using the most beautiful and heartbreaking metaphors, walked us through the trauma that she experienced and that her children and other family members experienced, and highlighted how important it is to understand the full effects on an individual and their family of a cancer diagnosis. Dr. Kasturi touched on the development of PTSD due to her mental health misdiagnosis and PTSD from the cancer diagnosis and harsh chemotherapy treatment itself. It was a powerful first-hand experience that provided insight and understanding of what a cancer patient goes through. It also illuminated the ways in which a misunderstanding (or even full ignorance) of trauma and its effects can be so very damaging to an individual. Rama relates that she knew there was more to the story regarding her physical and mental presentation, but no one could give her the words or correct diagnosis for it until she was staying at an airbnb years after her cancer diagnosis, and the host happened to know about trauma and handed her SAMHSA’s Tip 57 booklet to read.
Following Rama’s talk, participants attended their choice of 3 breakout sessions, where incredible information was relayed and rich discussions took place. The first breakout option was “An Introduction to Trauma and Grief Component Therapy for Adolescents (TGCTA)” was led by Erna Olafson, Ph.D., PsyD, of the University of Cincinnati and, until her recent retirement, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center’s Mayerson Center for Safe & Healthy Children. It was co-led by professional counselor and trainer and Xavier University Adjunct Professor, Erica Ogletree, of TREEmendous Counseling, LLC. Concurrently, Libby Murdoch, LPCC-S, founder of Brain Based Counseling, LLC, presented: “The Key: Unlocking Health and Happiness with Lessons from Neurology” which focused on how we can leave a legacy beyond being trauma informed by examining how concepts in neurobiology can help us and our clients achieve true psychological freedom from recreating, reenacting, and re-enforcing outdated narratives and programing from our past. The third breakout session option was “Introduction to the Clinical and Personal Uses of Emotional Freedom Technique ” led by Gregory Handleton, LPCC-S, TRCC, of Clermont County Juvenile Court.
Keynote: Transforming the Living Legacy of Trauma
After lunch, we had the honor of welcoming our keynote speaker, Janina Fisher, Ph.D, a psychologist, consultant, trainer and author of “Transforming the Living Legacy of Trauma: A workbook for survivors and therapists”. In her discussion, she highlighted that we now understand that trauma’s imprint is both psychological and somatic: long after the events are over, the body continues to respond as if danger were ever-present. Her professional mission for 25 years has been to bring a neurobiologically informed understanding of trauma to both clients and their therapists. Participants of the conference learned how to interpret trauma-based symptoms, such as dysregulated autonomic arousal, overwhelming emotions and sensations, intrusive images, numbing and disconnection. They also discovered how to use psychoeducation to help clients manage these symptoms and begin to change their relationship to the traumatic events. Dr. Fisher’s talk was informative, enlightening, and full of information participants could put into practice.
What’s Next at TTN
We know not everyone was able to attend our conference this year and some are just tired of the zoom training experience – zoom fatigue and overwhelm is Real! – but this is just one event that TTN offers throughout the year. You can visit our website’s Events page for a list of upcoming events available for registration, including the revival of our Lunch N’ Learns in November! These will take place 11:45-1:15pm on Thursday, Nov. 11 (“Districts CAN Create Integrated SEL/Trauma Informed Classrooms: Integrating TI/SEL into Tier 1”) and Tuesday, Nov. 30 (Our Sprouting Minds). Hop online and register today. We’ll see you there!
Trauma Survivors remind us that the work of surviving is challenging and that they need our support to make it through to the other side. Resilience may come from within, but it was planted there by interactions with those outside of the person. Let’s remember that “the ability to bounce back” hinges on the ability to connect to and attach with others. Survivors of trauma weren’t “born that way,” even though we all have that instinctive survival drive powered by our stress response system. Survivors of trauma had at least 1 caring, loving person in their life; ideally they had more than 1 to “flock” to. It takes a village, it always has.
Wishing you a day sprinkled with HOPE,
Melissa Adamchik, Executive Director