Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Healing Souls: Trauma-informed Peer Mentoring

Intervention Description
Rosemarie Mann
Overall Description: 
Trauma of early childhood, causes a person to believe that he is no good, other people are no good, and life is no good. A person that has lived through traumatic events experiences shame and fear on a level that is incomprehensible to someone that has not endured similar circumstances. As profound an experience as trauma is, the prevalence is even more profound. One need only to look at the research of Dr. Anda and Dr. Felleti to see the extent of trauma. So many people who have endured similar circumstances, who feel deeply shamed and afraid, and who feel that life has no purpose. These people are broken, shamed, and afraid. They feel disconnected and aimless. In the room down the hall is another traumatized person, experiencing the same shame, the same fear, the same worthlessness, and the same hopelessness. The neighbors both believe that they are on their own, and people only hurt each other. They believe that each is being judged by the other. What they communicate to each other is anger, resentment, condescension; all in the name of self-preservation. The National Mentoring Partnership defines responsible mentoring as a structured, one-to-one relationship that focuses on the needs of mentored participants. This relationship is caring and supportive and helps an individual to develop his own vision for the future. Trauma informed peer mentoring in a shelter is potentially an effective strategy to empower residents and increase their resilience. The Trauma-informed Coaching and Mentoring Tools would be used as a framework for the peer mentoring program.
This coaching and mentoring program’s primary focus is the healing of the impact of trauma on a person’s brain, body, and beliefs. Trauma of early childhood occurs within relationships. Therefore, healing must also occur within relationships, as painful as engaging in relationships can be for people that have experienced trauma. Participants are asked to evaluate their beliefs about themselves, their relationships, and their lives within the safety of a relationship with someone who has shared similar experiences. Participants then begin to develop felt safety, trust, sense of empowerment, and self-efficacy within the mentor-mentee relationship.
I am currently unaware of any trauma-informed coaching and mentoring program implemented within a homeless shelter. Mentoring programs have been successfully utilized in homeless shelters, such as the Seeds of Hope in Ohio that incorporates a faith-based model. The John W. Graham Shelter in Vermont, and the Family Homeless Shelter in Massachusetts utilize community volunteers. None of the models have incorporated a trauma-informed approach along with the utilization of the strengths within the residents themselves. The TI coaching and mentoring program includes a systematic coaching of resident mentees by resident mentors, which I am not aware of in any other program. Sanctuary Model has supported the positive impact of a trauma informed approach. There is a recognition in research of the positive impact mentoring has on at-risk youth, though the same emphasis and research has not been documented in the at-risk adult population. Coaching programs show the greatest gains in knowledge content and skill implementation of participants (95% knowledge content and 95% skill implementation). This is compared to lecture alone (10% change in knowledge content and 5% change in skill implementation), and lecture plus skill demonstration and practice (60% gain in knowledge content and skill implementation). (2002, Joyce & Showers) The combination of trauma-informed coaching within a mentoring relationship between shelter residents is grounded in strong research for each individual strategy, therefore, it is anticipated that the combination will produce positive results that are cost effective, and sustainable.
The impact of the model is on the adult residents and more broadly on their families as they build more positive and productive relationships. It is expected that the TI coaching and mentoring tools would foster the development of resilience and skills for success in the residents leading to decreased recidivism rates. A wider community impact can potentially be anticipated when residents enter communities prepared to be open, empathetic, and purposeful when they identify needs of other community members. Residents that have participated as mentors and/or mentees will feel greater sense of purpose and hope, and develop a greater desire to engage in meaningful employment. Mentors gain valuable knowledge and skills from participation in the program that can be useful in future employment applications. Decrease in domestic and community violence could also be anticipated in the long term.
The current implementation at the Jane Addams shelter of the Sanctuary Model as well as psycho-education of residents about the impact of traumatic events offers a strong foundation for the implementation of the trauma informed coaching and mentoring tools. The TI coaching and mentoring program would begin with staff training and collaboration on the development of overall objectives of the program at the shelter. Also developed at this time would be the anticipated time frame of mentoring partnerships based on average length of stays in the shelter. The trauma informed coaching and mentoring tools would then be introduced into the framework developed by the staff collaboration. Implementation of the full mentoring program including initial recruitment and training of mentors could occur within 6 months.
Estimated Cost of Production: 
Do the production costs decrease as the number of units produced increases?: 
Space and Staffing Required: 
Space would need to be available for private interviews for screening and matching of partners, as well as for private meetings as needed. Additionally, space could be available if the organization would decide to offer group events. Storage space for manuals in 3 ring binders would be required, amount of space based on the potential number of partnerships. The shelter staff would be trained to oversee the mentors and monitor partnerships. Supervision for the program would be provided by the Mentoring and Coaching Program Coordinator. The number of hours required for program support would depend on the shelter’s goals and objectives, for the number of partnerships to be supported, and time frames of partnerships.
Does your product require training of shelter staff to use appropriately?: 
Training Details: 
Staff would be taught the science of trauma’s impact on brain, biology, and beliefs of a person. Staff would also be trained in trauma-informed coaching, the Trauma Informed Coaching and Mentoring Tools, and the foundations of responsible mentoring. Shelter staff would then be responsible for overseeing the mentoring partnerships under the guidance of the program coordinator. The TI coaching and mentoring program is a peer-to-peer model. This means that healing is taking place for both participants in the mentoring relationship. This mutual healing is positive, however, it also predisposes the relationship to complexity and fragility. Therefore, the TI coaching and mentoring coordinator would receive additional training in active listening, assessing for conflict, and conflict resolution.
Qualities of the trauma-informed coaching and mentoring program that foster sustainability are the development of a pool of dedicated volunteers, community outreach and impact, along with the broadening of relationships with other partners such as Philadelphia BHDS and Lutheran Services. Volunteer mentors and mentees are recruited and trained. These volunteers become valuable assets to the sustainability of the program as future recruiters, trainers, and support for future program participants. The ongoing involvement in the program after formal mentoring has ended offers long term opportunity for shelter residents to continue to identify and utilize theirs personal experiences and strengths for the benefit of others. The volunteers offer sustainability to the TI coaching and mentoring program in many ways, including the powerful stories of partnership and perseverance that they will have to share. Sustainability efforts require a program to touch people’s hearts, and their purse strings. The success stories can be embedded in broader fund raising and awareness campaigns that support Jane Addams Home as well as partner organizations such as Luther Services. The programs success is founded in the recruitment, coaching, and support of volunteer mentors and mentees. These volunteers participate in the program to improve their own lives, and impact the lives of others. The impact of these volunteers is much broader then just themselves. The skills, dedication, empathy, and empowerment gained from participating in the program will touch the lives of their families, employers, and community members. This broad impact will build an understanding of the TI coaching and mentoring program, and a pool of future potential donors. Data surrounding the outcomes of participation in the program will be collected, both short and long term. These results can be tracked and reported to potential donors and will offer the opportunity to seek a broader range of funding sources.
The Healing Souls Trauma-informed Coaching and Mentoring Tools are founded in the universal approach to healing the impact of trauma on a person's brain, body, and beliefs. The Healing Souls TI Coaching and Mentoring Tools were developed based on another trauma-informed coaching program offered by Naeem's Dream. Healing Homes is a trauma informed parenting program. Both programs utilize a trauma-informed readiness tool that evaluates a person's beliefs, values, and generational patterns of functioning, along with a trauma-informed observation tool that allows a professional, or a trained peer, to coach another person. The universal approach to healing trauma framed by the Trauma-informed Coaching and Mentoring Tools could, with minimal modifications, be utilized in varied settings.
Evaluation of the effectiveness of the mentoring relationships would be measured by the change in score of the Trauma Recovery Scale (TRS), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale(HADS), and the Index of Clinical Stress (ICS) , all available in the public domain, completed by the mentee at initiation and completion of the formal mentoring partnership. Informal ongoing relationships between the mentee and mentor are encouraged after completion of the formal partnership and would offer support for future resilience. Completion of the TRS, HADS, and ICS prior to implementation of the TI mentoring program would provide not only a baseline of functioning, but also would assist in identifying individuals that should be referred for clinical mental health treatment. The mentee would complete a qualitative survey of satisfaction with the relationship with the mentor that would place the pre and post TRS, HADS, and ICS scores into meaningful context. Long term data would be collected by tracking rates of program graduates returning to the shelter as compared to residents that did not participate.