Sunday, August 16, 2015

Trauma-Sensitive Schools (TSS) Blog

A girl has the right to change her mind right?!?!

I decided that instead of merging my school-based blog for parents with all my trauma-sensitive schools information, I would keep some TSS info. on that site but also, create a new author site in preparation for the book I'm writing.

Drum roll please... The new site is...

Please check it out. Please become a follower, sign-up in your reader, or do whatever it is you do. Be on the look out for some upcoming prizes and other exciting stuff over there too. I'd love to see you comment and join the discussion!

And remember, "Couldn't Make It Up if I Tried" will continue. I am adding passion, not taking any away. Specifically, I'm growing in my passion to work with you to create trauma-sensitive schools across the nation!

Let's do this!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Trauma-Sensitive Schools (TSS)

My blogger life is undergoing some changes, and I need to bring you up to speed!

Those of you who have been reading for some time know that I am a school counselor in addition to being Little Turtle's mom.  For years, I've had another blog for my professional world, but as of the last year, these two worlds have been merging more and more as I have become a mover and a shaker in the creating trauma-sensitive schools movement.  It's time for my blogging to reflect these shifts!

Here's how it's going to work...

This blog will continue as a place where I can keep you updated about Little Turtle and share my raw and honest story of parenting a deeply hurt kiddo.  You will still get the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help us all!

My "school" blog is now going to be a blog for parents as well educators.  I will continue to post tips and ideas for helping students grow in their social/emotional development, but I will also be adding oodles of information for educators, parents, and other stakeholders when it comes to all things trauma-sensitive schools.  In exciting news, I will soon be posting information about a book I am writing.  Yes, I'm writing a book.  #beyondexcited  #scaredtodeath

I am Mama Moon.  I am an educator.  I am an author.  I am a passionate leader in the trauma-sensitive schools movement.  And I'm determined to take what I've learned on this crazy-azy ride to help make a positive difference in the world for the masses of traumatized children in every single school, every day.  Please join me!

Keep reading this blog, and please check out my other blog too.  In fact, I would most appreciate it if you would like, join, sign-up, or do whatever it is that you do on the other site so I know you're there.  I'd also love to see comments, questions, words of encouragement, and honest feedback too.  Don't by shy.  Speak up so I know you're here!  Thanks!

Oh, here's the link.  ;-)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Trauma-Informed Care for Parents

Trauma-informed care is all the buzz, and it should be - for mental health professionals, health care employees, child welfare workers, those in the justice system, and educators.  We need to understand that complex trauma is real and has significant consequences for its victims in terms of brain development as well as cognitive, social, emotional, and moral development too.  Its impact can reach into adulthood, and the effects on health outcomes aren't pretty to say the least.  In a nut shell, stress kills.  And those difficult behaviors that traumatized youth may display?  Well, we aren't going to punish, threaten, or reward them out of them when they are rooted in the back-brain stress response system of fight, flight, or freeze.  Any healing happens in relationships - in connecting with and being with others who provide safety - both physical and psychological safety.  It takes time, lots of time, but time alone is no cure.

I couldn't be more hopeful about the conversations and potential changes that may come from making sure our professionals and systems are truly "trauma-informed." Sometimes a little information can do more harm than good though, and even the experts may miss the mark.

I think this is especially the case when it comes to being trauma-informed with parents.  This is because we, as parents of deeply hurt children and teens, are often traumatized too.  And by trauma, I don't necessarily mean vicarious trauma - the trauma that comes from bearing witness to the stories of our wounded loved ones.  Many of us have experienced vicarious trauma - the kind that eats at your soul after intense therapy appointments where your child crawls in your arms and expresses raw pain from years of abuse in the biological home - those times when you hold your little one, knowing you can't protect her from what someone else already did.  Her tears and your tears melt together.  The ache lasts long after the tears dry.  The anger is heavy.  Thoughts of revenge creep in and linger with no outlet.  Bearing witness and the vicarious trauma that goes with it?  Check.  I've got it, and many other parents do too.

That's not the type of trauma this post is about.  I'm talking about the trauma that many of us as therapeutic parents experience - the kind that comes after years of rejection and rage where your child kicks, screams, claws, bites, and hits, causing direct injury to us.  It's what makes me flashback to the night my child cut my head open with a candlestick every time I see blood.  Every single time.  It's the kind of trauma that led me to jump and scream when a colleague innocently threw a new toy my way during a meeting, and it took me hours, I mean that literally, to calm down my racing heart and focus my frenzied mind.  It's waking up in the middle of the night after hearing something and feeling like my child is coming into my bedroom to kill me in my sleep as she threatened to do - even though she's out of state in a treatment program and has been there over two years.  I was and continue to be traumatized by my child.  Frankly, it's still hard for me to grasp how I, as an adult, can be traumatized by a child.  Whether I like it or not, it's true.  I know I am not alone.

With our kids, we know the importance of distinguishing the CAN'Ts from the WON'Ts.  It's just as important when understanding traumatized parents.  For example...

I CAN'T see my child anymore without experiencing significant distress.

I CAN'T stay as regulated as I used to when she escalates and may even dissociate.

I CAN'T quickly bounce back to play a game during a visit after my child takes a break with staff and calms down when there has been no acknowledgement of her minutes ago threatening behavior.

I CAN'T put 100% of my focus on what is best for my girl when I am in need of help and support too.

I WON'T allow her trauma (or anyone else's) to be an excuse for traumatizing others.

These CAN'Ts are a direct result of the trauma I have experienced while in relationship with my deeply wounded child.  Parenting my girl has changed me.  I don't like it; not one bit.  I beat myself up because of it sometimes.  But just like we can't punish, threaten, or scare traumatized children out of where they are, shaming me for where I am will not shift me either

Instead, I need to ask the professionals working with us to please see me.  Please believe me.  Please be compassionate and withhold judgement.  I beg you to offer me, the parent of a traumatized girl, the same top-notch trauma-informed care you are offering my child.  She needs me in order to feel safe, and for her to get the best of me, I need you to help make sure I am safe and that I feel safe too.  Many other parents need this as well.