Transformative Education Associates
“And Still I R.I.S.E.” is a trauma healing, relationship strengthening and community building project. The focus of this trauma informed initiative affirms the Resiliency of human beings; acknowledges the power of each story as Inspiration; recognizes and building on the smallest of Successes; and, Embraces the individual, the family and the community as an organic whole.
The project goal is to create well-being for those who have been impacted by homelessness and other traumatic experiences. This is done by: creating a safe space for opening and sharing ones hurt through storytelling and performance; Building relationships across borders of hierarchy, race, class, ethnicity and age, in order to develop trust and transparency for greater participation in the decision making process; implementing a development process for peer support; creating opportunities for collaboration across power differentials; and, assist in building the capacities of the women to advocate for their right to choose what is best for them and their children.
The organization of the project is based on four complimentary models, tools and practices. 1) The Adverse Childhood Experience assessment tool (individual) provides a pre-assessment to indicate a baseline for the presence of trauma. 2) The Family Development Model created by Cornell University, is a family strength based model which asserts that all families’ have strengths. 3) The Aboriginal Focusing Oriented Therapy for Complex Trauma is a therapeutic model to track and arrest trauma for individuals and family groups. 4) Creating Community Conversations for Change (3C4C) is a trauma informed community engagement model which is used to build community trust and sustainable supportive responses to trauma by community members to one another. The “And Still I R.I.S.E.” Project uses an integrated approach in the engagement and delivery.
“Still I R.I.S.E” is trauma informed through the trauma centric models outlined above. The ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Study informs the participants on research that suggest how certain experiences during childhood can harm children’s developing brains so profoundly that the effects show up decades later; and that a combination of these experiences have consequences for the quality of health in the adult years. The Strengthening Family framework is used to discover and amplify the inherent strengths of the family to promote superior family functioning. Aboriginal Focusing Oriented Therapy (AFOT) for Complex Trauma is a compassionate, safe and effective therapeutic approach which allows for the acknowledgement of current, historical and generational trauma. 3C4C is a community based approach which educate through engagement of community members at multiple levels in order to transform violence into productive conflicts, as a means for addressing trauma experienced by individuals, families, and the community at large.
This project is unique from other trauma informed practices in that it offers a holistic approach that address all three levels of human social existence – It address scope of the issues at the individual, family and community levels and it address depth concerning the current, historical and generational experiences associated with trauma and resiliencies. All of these concerns beset homeless families. We are in an exclusive positon to have participated in development of curriculum with the Federal Office of Women’s Health to provide primary care providers a strategy for engaging trauma recovery for women as distinctive.
The most salient aspect of the “Still I R.I.S.E.” Initiative is the Creating Community Conversations for Change (3C4C) process. This new and powerful community intervention use a type of transformative social therapy approach with groups who don’t always see each other or have an interest in working together. (see Rozjman link in appendix) This process supports the development of a healthy way of understanding and engaging in conflict. The shelter environment as a community can serve as a place to negate insecurity and feelings of unsafety by the act of acknowledgment and building the participants’ capacity to engage in conflict without violence.
The originality of addressing the scope and depth of trauma at all three levels (individual, family and community) simultaneously in an organic complete manner within homeless shelters, has never been done before, nor has any shelter approached the population as a resource partner to resolve the issues, as this approach emphasizes. More over this project is inviting organization wellness towards a cultural shift in the dynamics of shelters that will promote wellness in the administration, the staff and the people being served? The cross integration of this approach compliments other trauma informed practices like the Sanctuary Model from a culturally enriched perspective.
The impact of the tools, models and practices which are uniquely utilized in this project has been noted as best practice models nationally and in Canada. (see appendices). The ACE Study Assessment Tool has been gaining more significance as a tool for assessing the impact of various experiences on populations being served by public health institutions, such as hospitals, mental health support agencies, therapist and substance abuse counselors and organizations. The implication for use of this tool traverse almost every human institution.
Aboriginal Focused Oriented Therapy (AFOT) has had a significant impact on indigenous families and has been documented through case studies all over Canada. It is a client/family centered and therapist driven model which uses a body knowing (somatic) approach for unearthing the deep trauma that is voiceless. This therapeutic approach is based on the work of Eugene Gendlin and adapted by Canadian Matese knowledge keeper, Shirley Turcotte utilizing Aboriginal healing philosophies that augment individual therapy with a collective historical and intergenerational approach. AFOT can be used alone or integrated with a variety of treatment modalities supporting self-awareness, empowerment and healing.
Trauma informed services maintain that the victim isn’t the problem, not that they are weak or deficient, we have come to say, “It’s not what’s wrong with you but what happened to you.” In finding out about trauma, survivors begin to move away from self-blame and develop agency around the pursuit of their goals. This project is intended to bring to consciousness the strengths inherent within the individual in relationship to family and the community. Through this strengths based, partnership approach, exposure to the shelter system can result in a more positive shelter experience, it permits shelter families to move out and successfully stay out and positively affect the communities they will move into.
Transformative Education Associates, has the background and track record for delivering a process to address the needs for this initiative. (see principles resumes in appendix) We have an advisory board of 6, a development team of 6, a team of 12 facilitators, a financial and legal consultant and a business and technology partner. Our combined skills and talents together provide a unique mix of diverse thinking. We collectively have the human resources to produce, implement and evaluate this project. We have an in-house financial management company that manages receipts, taxes and disbursements.
The Lead Facilitators of the process have been trained in all the models indicated above and have a team of facilitators and advisors who collaborate on the design of engagements. Our team consist of social workers, therapist, educators, community organizers and organization development professionals, who have been and are actively engaged in their own healing process.
Do the production costs decrease as the number of units produced increases?:
Space and Staffing Required:
The space requirements are minimal. For each site a cubical for three staff members at any given time, of course an office is preferred. Our approach is to have two facilitators and one evaluator/observer during all trainings. The other space requirement is for the staff and group trainings. Prefer open comfortable space for the number of anticipated participants, windows, movable furniture, technology access, wall space, food, supplies and appropriate equipment. Given schedules and space realities, if this cannot be accommodated, we would divide the training into two or three sections. Shelters are 24 hour operations, and we would like which would require all staff shifts to be trained. Logistics would have to be worked out for night and evening shifts and the associated space for them.
Does your product require training of shelter staff to use appropriately?:
Training is a critical aspect of this project. There are four levels of training, one for staff (front line), one for the trainers (senior staff), one for supervision (senior staff) , and one for peer supporters (peers). The trainings will occur over a two week period. The training will be provided both by place face to face contact and through video conferencing. The purpose of each training unit is to create a core competency that can be immediately utilized. To stream line the time line for implementation, some trainings will go on simultaneously, staff could be trained the same week that the peers are trained. The training track will require a computer, projector, newsprint, and writing utensils. Time: 2- 6 hours per session
Methodology: Elements of these methodological frames are used variedly as an approach to integrating the diverse approaches to trauma through a “community conversations for change” lens.
Harmonizing of Motivations
Victimization and Victimhood
Relationship to power and authority
Responsibility and Accountability
The feasibility of the project is high. The project consists of trainings, supervision for group and individual psycho-educational- therapeutic sessions. This intensive services aspect of the intervention is done so through our staff, with little or no equipment needs, other than computers and a projector, and handouts, the project doesn't require a massive overhaul or purchases to get started. The question to be answered is one of logistics, how ready and how interested is the agency staff to receive us? A planning project phase would be necessary to anticipate obstacles, barriers and contingency plans to stay on track.
Yes, the same training modules will be used in other sites.
This project use developmental evaluation (DE) as an approach to identifying emergent processes that are adaptive to the uncertainties of social innovation in complex environments. This adaptive evaluation process allows for engagement and reflection on where we started, what were the forks in the road, what was learned along the way, and where we end up. We focus less on formative and summative evaluation techniques and more on process and outcome techniques. This process is a means to track the methods and procedures that are often difficult to evaluate when adaptations are largely driven by new learning and changes in participants, partners and context. The evaluation involves a mixed methods approach which is participatory because of the need for high trust and quick feedback.
These methods are used in the evaluation process for the training:
- Determine the scope of the work with the organization
- Engage in reflective practice and critical thinking with the evaluator and team
- Identify and make clear the evaluators focus which includes:
o process observations
o points of tension
o implicit decisions
o assumptions made
o emerging themes and patterns
- Collecting data which has two streams:
o information that assists in validating certain decisions, approaches or assumptions
o documenting the innovation process by tracking forks in the road
- Data Collection can also include:
o focus groups
o email questions and observations
o group analysis and interpretation
The difference in the DE process of evaluation is it accompanies the development process so that questioning and learning happen simultaneously with action. As observer, the evaluator is watching for what is being tried? What is being decided? How is it being done? How is it being decided? The primary purpose of making observations is to generate useful feedback for the team