A Deep Dive into Building Trauma Responsive Systems

trauma response diagram
4/2/21

Minneapolis College is taking a deep dive into understanding trauma and how faculty and employees of the state colleges and universities system respond to trials and tribulations of situations like the pandemic and the George Floyd aftershock.

The College is sponsoring Building Trauma Responsive Systems, a series of six virtual seminars April 12, April 19, April 26, May 3, May 10, and May 17, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Register here.

About the Series

Presenters are Dr. Meagan Abel, a clinical psychologist with specialty in the assessment and treatment of trauma-related conditions, and Dr. Michael Thomas, owner of Learning and Resiliency Services, LLC which provides consultation and training services to organizations on the topics of trauma responsiveness and resiliency building.

“The goal is to move our system and our institutions to become healing institutions,” said Patrick Troup, Vice President, Minneapolis College Student Affairs and interim Diversity Officer, said. “We have been working to understand the impact of traumatic experiences on ourselves and our students, how institutions can also be traumatizing and how to move forward toward healing.  Studies show the impact of trauma on individuals. Due to the pandemic and the racial pandemic, everyone has experience to draw from, some more than one.”

Abel and Thomas jointly said, “Trauma responsiveness requires psychological safety and a general sense of wellness for those engaged in the system (staff, faculty, administrators, students, etc). As such, we will discuss the delicate and daily balance between risk and resiliency and present a model of wellness for participants to consider in their own lives.”

The six-week series seeks to meet each participant in the series where they are at in the process of becoming trauma responsive in their work, Abel and Thomas said. “This can range from building awareness on the prevalence and impact of trauma (with an emphasis on understanding the intersectionality of systems, race and trauma) to taking actionable steps towards becoming a trauma responsive, healing organization.”

Students Affairs has been working with Dr. Thomas in understanding cycles and physiological responses to trauma, “so we have a better understanding and skills to work better with our students,” Troup said.  “We moved from an individual to an institutional focus. An evolution of self now to community and systems.”

“We are hoping to engage more individuals both on campus as well as across the state university system,” Troup said. “This is the first iteration. The hope is to build off Trauma Responsive System 2.0. This is not a one and down type of activity. It’s ongoing — we’re building an understanding of the influence trauma has on individuals and its challenges.”

Abel and Thomas summarized, “we will thoroughly explore the neurophysiology of trauma in a practical and relevant manner ensuring all participants have a solid understanding of the stress response system in the body.  Once we set the foundation (understanding the prevalence and impact of trauma, understanding the neurophysiology of trauma and considering strategies to promote personal wellness), we will begin focusing our time on systems and how systems like people can become traumatized.

“We will present a model for understanding systemic traumatization as well as what healing organization look like. We will further present a model to consider various strategies for intervention and innovation in the pursuit of becoming a trauma responsive, healing organization.”

The latter half of the series, we will seek to provide realistic and practical strategies in creation culture, change in organizations towards more trauma responsive, healing institutions.

Those virtual audiences participating in all six of the series will be eligible for individual or group coaching on the development/implementation of a work plan targeting the pursuit of trauma responsiveness at the individual or systems level.

“We believe this more tailored opportunity will assist participants in working through many of the challenges in starting this work and lead to socially meaningful change” Abel and Thomas said. 

Share This Story