Trauma-Informed Trainings

“Thank you so much for a dynamic, inspiring presentation yesterday for Berkeley Mental Health. I learned a lot from your training, and already applied it today!”

— Thu A. Bui, M.D., Psychiatrist,
Berkeley Mental Health

The California Center of Excellence for Trauma Informed Care offers training and consultation on a wide variety of topics relevant to the multi-faceted experiences of trauma-exposed populations. Below are brief descriptions of several of the Center’s available trainings. If you do not see the topic that interests you, please contact us for a more exhaustive list or for a referral.

The Center provides training to clinical and non-clinical staff in order to develop a therapeutically beneficial milieu within which specific interventions and treatments can function more effectively. The Center staff are not clinicians themselves.

eval graph 2015

Trauma-Informed Training Topics
Implementing ‘Seeking Safety’
Trauma-Informed Services
Trauma-Informed Rules and Polices and Procedures
Overview of PTSD and Complex Trauma
Substance Abuse and Trauma
Self-Care and the Impact of Trauma
The Neurobiology of Trauma
Domestic Violence and Trauma
Elder Abuse and Neglect
Reducing or Eliminating Seclusion and Restraint
Addressing Self-Harm and Self-Injury
Safe Schools: Promoting Safety and Addressing Unsafe Behaviors by Understanding Trauma
Adverse Childhood Experiences Study
Advocating on Behalf of Survivors
Child Sexual Abuse
Children and Trauma
Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Substance Abuse
Female Offenders and Recently Incarcerated Women
HIV and Trauma
Human Trafficking
Improving Probation and Parole Services
Military Sexual Assault
Native Americans and Trauma: Addressing Historical Trauma in the Present
The Neurobiology of Trauma & Trauma-Informed Communication
Preventing Teen Sexual Exploitation
PTSD and Problem Gambling
Sexual Assault Survivors
Suicide and Trauma
Trauma and Eating Disorders
Trauma and Personality Disorders
Trauma-Informed Client Interactions and Trauma-Informed Communication
Trauma-Informed Homeless Shelters & Services
Trauma-Informed Program Design & Assessment
Trauma-Informed Services for Children, Youth, & Families
Women, Substance Abuse, and Trauma
Working with Elders with Child Abuse Histories
Working with Former or Current Sex Workers

Implementing “Seeking Safety”
“Seeking safety” is an trauma-specific evidence-based practice designed for people with PTSD and Substance Use Disorder that has been shown to be effective with a variety of populations struggling with trauma. The information and approaches can be used generally or specifically to treat PTSD/trauma and substance abuse/unsafe behaviors. Gabriella Grant is an associate of “Seeking Safety” through Dr. Lisa Najavits, the manual’s developer. Contact info@seekingsafety.org separately to set up this training. More information about “Seeking Safety” is at www.seekingsafety.org.
  • Average Participant Evaluation: 3.7/4.0
  • 96.3% of participants’ responses about this training were “excellent” or “very good”
  • Comments from participants:
    “The presentation was clear and concise in presenting Seeking Safety treatment interventions. I enjoyed the incorporation of role play in group.”
    “Excellent, informative and clear.”
    “The presenter was enthusiastic and extremely willing to explain this program in great detail. She was well organized and answered questions thoroughly.”
“I just wanted to thank you for the best training I have received yet. I feel I have the piece of the recovery puzzle that has been missing when providing a service to our Members at the clinic. I also feel I have the tools of recovery for myself as well. Your class was thought-provoking and informative. My only wish is that it could have been longer. Thank you so such for the warm and fun learning environment and for sharing your wealth of knowledge.”

— Kimberly A. Nash, Peer Support Specialist,
Hemet Mental Health,
Riverside County July 27, 2015

“…instead of using or suggesting “harm reduction” which so many of our agencies use, you promoted the idea of “safety increase” outlook. I have translated it to my clients already as “increasing safety” and have found that it already has resulted in some change in dynamic with them. I am really looking forward to learning more and utilizing this with my clients. Thank you for your information and knowledge.”

— Neera Bhatnagar, MSW,
Mental Health Client Specialist,
Santa Cruz County

Trauma-Informed Services
This training provides participants, managers, line-staff and administrators with key elements of what a trauma-informed program looks like (and does not look like). It follows the 2001 “Using Trauma Theory to Design Service Systems” framework as well as provides resources for assessing and transforming agencies to become more trauma-informed.
  • Average Participant Evaluation: 3.76/4.0
  • 95.8% of participants’ responses about this training were “excellent” or “very good”
  • Comments from participants:
    “Training was wonderful and helpful. Excellent and relevant subject. She is a great speaker and trainer.”
    “Very very well done. Best training I have had at DVS.”
    “The presentation was so informative, eye opening, and extremely useful.”
“On our last grant, the one you helped us initiate, we scored highest and got a 3 year grant based on our trauma-informed services incorporating evidence based practices. We have an officially trained Seeking Safety trainer doing our support groups and we are using motivational interviewing with our clients with co-occurring DV, mental health and substance abuse issues. We couldn’t have done it without you!!!”

— Tracy Lamb,
Executive Director of Napa Emergency Women’s Services (NEWS)
domestic violence program

Trauma-Informed Rules and Polices and Procedures

Attendees from this training, from management to representative from all levels of staff, participate in an interactive discussion about trauma-informed policies and procedures. The trainer and attendees will look at specific rule-related issues that create problems between staff and clients in order to develop more trauma-informed policies, approaches and perspectives to increase safety: both for staff and for clients. Previewing program rules and policies, the trainer will address specific rules and policies and suggests changes to make them more effective. Trainer will provide options for client surveys and data collection points to measure change and effectiveness.

Overview of PTSD and Complex Trauma

This training goes over the current research regarding PTSD and complex trauma. It allows participants to have a familiarity with trauma-related terms, identify trauma symptoms, and identify responses that can exacerbate or alleviate trauma responses. Research from Lisa Najavits, Bessel Van Der Kolk, and others will be discussed.

Substance Abuse and Trauma

This training reviews the body of research showing the close connections between trauma and the development of substance abuse and dependence. It will review evidence-based interventions that have proved positive outcomes for people with trauma and substance abuse programs, including seeking safety, TREM and TRIAD.

Self-Care and the Impact of Trauma

This training provides staff people with an understanding of how working with populations exposed to trauma can affect them in their personal lives. Specific suggestions on self-care, resources, and fellowship will provide experiential examples of how to feel better immediately when struggling with the impact of trauma work.

The Neurobiology of Trauma

This training goes over the work done by Dr. Bruce Perry, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk and others regarding trauma’s interference with brain development and how the traumatized brain works. This training offers a lay-persons’ understanding of the brain and trauma, accessible and understandable to participants. By understanding the brain, staff can respond more effectively and programs can apply concepts more appropriately to increase safety and safe decision-making.

Domestic Violence and Trauma

This six-hour training focuses on the dynamics of domestic violence and how current or recent domestic violence often has a connection with earlier experiences of violence and abuse. In order for programs to work with people exposed to domestic violence, it is essential to understand the relationship between earlier experiences, current unsafe relations and other issues affecting the person, such as substance abuse, mental health issues, homelessness, among others. Participants will be able to discuss domestic violence issues, ask about domestic violence, and learn about the Danger Assessment, a tool to assess for lethality in domestically violent relationships.

Elder Abuse and Neglect

This training focuses the older adult population. Starting with research showing that current elder abuse and neglect is connected to childhood experiences of abuse and neglect, professionals and advocates can better understand the current safety issues affecting older adult clients. An emphasis on dementia and hospital delirium will provide practical information to allow participants to learn ways to focus on current safety concerns while promoting client empowerment. Participants will also be able to discern safe coping in clients and address unsafe behaviors by building on strengths and emphasizing choice.

“The training you provided to the Adult Protective Services workers and their multidisciplinary partners was extremely well received by the audience throughout California, with even our most experienced field workers who indicated that they gained valuable insights and tips for working with older adults. The workers also commented on your lively and engaging training style. The training was a real hit!”

— Lori Delagrammatikas, Program Manager,
M.A.S.T.E.R. at the Academy for Professional Excellence,
a project of San Diego State University’s School of Social Work

Reducing or Eliminating Seclusion and Restraint

The reduction and elimination of seclusion and restraint in all settings, but especially in hospitals, schools, and treatments centers, is a core aspect of trauma-informed transformation. This training, and additional consultation, helps agencies assess current practice, develop additional approaches to de-escalate situations, and better understand why confrontation and force increase negative reactions and unsafe behaviors. Specific policies can be addressed and changed, and measures to assess effectiveness can be developed. Consultation includes creating a roadmap to move toward elimination of seclusion and restraint as well as consumer input to ensure safety is achieved.

Addressing Self-Harm and Self-Injury

People with trauma histories often engage in self-harming and self-injurious behaviors. Professionals and advocates can assist in minimizing the negative effects of these behaviors by addressing the current safety issues, emphasizing consumer choice, and developing a list of options to reduce reliance on self-harm and self-injury. Specific protocols will be suggested to improve the trauma-informed response to a trauma-related behavior.

Safe Schools: Promoting Safety and Addressing Unsafe Behaviors by Understanding Trauma
Teachers, principals, monitors and parents often struggle with how to address unsafe behaviors (skipping school, fighting, bullying, among others), while still promoting schools as a safe and welcoming environment for all children. By better understanding trauma and trauma affects the brain, safety and behavior in children, schools can develop a range of tools to increase safety, address unsafe behaviors and promote connection to the school staff and grounds. Practice, role-plays, and safe coping skills give school staff tools to make trauma-informed changes and measures to gauge impact.
“We are giving kids alternatives to suspension based on understanding we are an educational institution and kids need support not punishment to learn new behaviors. We are asking them to do such things as reading assignments, community service, apologies. Yes, it is definitely based on the training you gave to our Assistant Principals about how to approach kids from a trauma-informed perspective. It is starting to work. We reduced suspensions by 8% this year. We love that sentence starter ‘It makes sense…’ ”

— Eileen Brown, Director of Student Services,
Santa Cruz City Schools

Evaluation Trainings Graph

Adverse Childhood Experiences Study

Kaiser Permanente’s groundbreaking Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) shows the long-term impact of trauma over the lifespan. After surveying over 17,000 Kaiser members in the San Diego area, the ACE Study found that 67% of all respondents have experienced at least one ACE. It also found that as the number of ACEs increases, the risk for the physical, mental, and behavioral health problems similarly increases. This training goes over the findings of the ACE Study and provides an opportunity to discuss how to apply the findings to service provision. The impact of trauma on staff is also addressed. This is a three-hour training.

Advocating on Behalf of Survivors

This training looks at how to advocate for survivors of trauma by focusing on consumer choice and safety. Participants will learn about the central trauma roles and how to recognize when trauma dynamics are impeding advocacy. Participants will practice invitational approaches to increase participation and communication and how to address unsafe behaviors in a manner that maintains connection between survivor and advocate. Participants will also learn about how trauma affects decision-making and behaviors. A self-care plan for the advocate will also be developed.

Child Sexual Abuse

This topic gives professionals and advocates key information about child sexual abuse and its impact on the person. Providing an overview of recent research, the training highlights the long-term impact of child sexual abuse and how to ask and respond to disclosures, and provides resources and suggestions for working with survivors of child sexual abuse. Recent cases in the news have provided a larger opportunity to discuss these issues; participants will develop skills to promote conversation, support, and safety.

Children and Trauma

This training reviews the ever-growing research related to early childhood trauma, evidence-based interventions, and suggestions on how to work with children that are affected by trauma. The ACE Study is explored and research data from trauma-specific children’s programs will be discussed.

Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Substance Abuse

This training looks at research and practice regarding how to integrate substance abuse treatment with domestic violence perpetration interventions. Participants get a solid foundation in the connection between substance abuse and the commission of domestic violence and how integrating practices that address both issues, from a trauma-informed perspective, enhances positive client outcomes, namely less substance use and violence. Information on the Danger Assessment, lethality tool, is also provided.

Female Offenders and Recently Incarcerated Women

Women involved in the criminal justice system have extremely high rates of victimization, from childhood to the present. In order to work effectively with women leaving prison, on parole, or on probation, understanding the impact of trauma on behaviors, decision-making, and safety is key. After a review of recent research, participants will practice asking about trauma, responding when disclosures occur, and integrating safety into all aspects of service provision.

HIV and Trauma

This training reviews the body of research that shows a highly correlated association between early and severe child abuse and continuing HIV risk behaviors. Participants will receive additional resources and interventions to increase effectiveness in the promotion of HIV-prevention activities.

Human Trafficking

The trafficking of people for labor, sex, and other purposes is a global phenomenon and California is one of the primary destinations for human trafficking. This training looks at human trafficking, its roots, and its red flags. Emphasis is placed on collaborative community responses and best practices for responding to victims of human trafficking. A legal update will also be provided related to reporting and visas.

Improving Probation and Parole Services

Focusing on victim services and integrating victim advocacy, victim impact statement, restitution and court-ordered conditions into parole and probation services improves the ability of parole and probation officers to monitor and supervise offenders. Specific suggestions on developing victim-centered practices and policies will allow agencies to better serve victims and communities.

Military Sexual Assault
This training looks at the newly addressed phenomenon of sexual assault within military troops. The focus is on female victims, but issues related to male victimization are also be discussed. Suggestions on screening as well as resources in case of disclosure are discussed.
  • Average Participant Evaluation: 4.6/5.0
  • 88.9% of participants’ responses about this training were “excellent” or “good”
  • Comments from participants:
    “Enjoyed the open forum and how she involved in the group in answering questions we may have.”
    “Great job–thank you!”
Native Americans and Trauma:
Addressing Historical Trauma in the Present
Historical trauma is a key concern within Native American and Alaska Native peoples. Trauma-informed approaches allow programs that work with native people to connect historical trauma to current struggles, such as substance abuse and dependence, domestic violence, child abuse, and mental health issues and to focus on creating safety today. Many Native American, Alaska Native, and First Canadian people have participated in this training and have reported learning new approaches to enhancing safety for native people.
  • Average Participant Evaluation: 4.79/5.0
  • 94.3% of participants’ responses about this training were “excellent” or “very good”
  • Comments from participants:
    “Excellent! Very useful, range of information & tools, multimedia, well paced, great presenter.”
    “Trainer was good at integrating participation. Concepts were clear & succinct.”
    “Neurological connections to trauma helped me to really see how clients react and when they are able to hear information.”
The Neurobiology of Trauma & Trauma-Informed Communication
Neurobiology shows that traumatic events affect the brain at the time of the even and over the lifespan. Once the neurobiology of trauma is understood, through a user-friendly approach, staff and agencies can better understand client reactions, better understanding how to minimize re-traumatization and triggering interaction, and how to use neurobiology to create safety and connection.
  • Average Participant Evaluation: 3.91/4.0
  • 99.2% of participants’ responses about this training were “excellent” or “very good”
  • Comments from participants:
    “It was very nicely done, very educational, and I got a lot out of it.”
    “Amazing, best training I have attended, loved the way it was broken down.”
    “Excellent, Gabriella was well prepared and very informative.”
Preventing Teen Sexual Exploitation

Young people are recruited into teen sexual exploitation every day. This training looks at how to recognize teen sexual exploitation and how to provide tools for young people to recognize and resist recruitment. Not unlike domestic violence, teen sexual exploitation is a relationship that is devastating but can also be appealing, creating mixed emotions in those being recruited. Specific interventions will be discussed and policies to address teen sexual exploitation will be suggested.

PTSD and Problem Gambling

This training looks at the research showing a strong correlation between PTSD, trauma, and the development of problem gambling and pathological gambling. Participants will understand problem gambling, how it sooths symptoms of PTSD and trauma, and how to identify and work with a person who has mental health and/or substance abuse issues as well as problem gambling. This training may be provided cost-free. Contact Eilene Cary at ecary@ontrackconsulting.org to begin the scheduling process.

Sexual Assault Survivors

Survivors of sexual assault and rape are often un-recognized within social service settings, especially substance abuse treatment, homeless and housing programs and work-placements. Understanding issues related to sexual assault and rape allows professionals to best increase safety to prevent as well as to respond to concerns related to sexual assault. Looking at sexual assault of both men and women from a gender-based analysis allows for programs to acknowledge the far-reaching impact of this often misunderstood crime.

Suicide and Trauma

In this topic, participants learn about the connection between earlier experiences of violence and abuse and current or recent suicidal behavior. The training emphasizes skills-building on asking about suicide, addressing unsafe behaviors, promoting connection and providing resources. Techniques practiced include grounding, safe coping, and responding empathetically to disclosures of suicidal thoughts. Laws and legal parameters are also discussed.

Trauma and Eating Disorders

This training provides a review of the copious research into trauma and the development of eating disorders, disordered eating, and obesity. Tools, such as the Kids’ Eating Disorder Survey, EAT-26 screen, and the ACE questionnaire, will be provided. Suggestions on how to integrate eating disorder and obesity prevention and intervention in a variety of social service settings will be discussed.

Trauma and Personality Disorders

This training reviews the research showing associations between early childhood abuse, especially child sexual abuse, and the development of personality disorders, including borderline personality disorder. Participants will be able to develop specific non-clinical skills to work with people who have both trauma and personality disorder behaviors, with or without a diagnosis.

Trauma-Informed Client Interactions and Trauma-Informed Communication
Sometimes it seems that telling clients the right way to do things saves time and money; however, often it is a short-term solution with long-term costs and consequences, not unlike the very behaviors that the program is addressing in their clients. By better understanding the impact of trauma on safety, decision-making and coping, agencies can work more collaboratively with their clients and promote safe, empowered decision-making by their clients. This also reduces power struggles and staff burnout. Specific exercises train staff in trauma-informed tools to address unsafe behavior and also to emphasize safety in all rules and policies.
  • Average Participant Evaluation: 3.79/4.0
  • 97.8% of participants’s responses about this training were “excellent” or “very good”
  • Comments from participants:
    “Gabby was a dynamic presenter. She brought forth great info. Used fine examples and encouraged discussion among the group in attendance. Great job!”
    “Incredibly informative, practical, helpful.”
    “Outstanding presenting- creates welcoming presence combined with humor.”
Trauma-Informed Homeless Shelters & Services
Homelessness is both caused by trauma and is a symptom of trauma, so agencies providing services to people struggling with housing issues can best serve their clients by understanding the connection between trauma and homelessness and by assessing agency practice to transform services into a trauma-informed framework. By focusing shelter or program rules on safety, promoting empowerment and addressing unsafe behavior in a compassionate manner, agencies working on addressing homelessness in their communities can improve client outcomes, create safer shelters and reduce staff burnout.
  • verage Participant Evaluation: 3.86/4.0
  • 98.9% of participants’s responses about the training were “excellent” or “very good”
  • Comments from participants:
    “This has been one of the best I had attended.”
    “Great delivery, energy, sense that you’ve ‘been there’ as far as working in this environment.”
    “Amazing — very informative — professionally useful.”
Trauma-Informed Program Design & Assessment
Many programs were designed long ago and paperwork, rules, polices and approaches seem to be writ in stone. By better understanding trauma, agencies can look to see how their program can increase create safety and connection with clients. Agencies can identify small changes to try as well as measures to gauge results of the changes. An agency assessment gives focus to the areas where agencies can benefit most.
  • Average Participant Evaluation: 3.84/4.0
  • 98.1% of participants’ responses about the training were “excellent” or “very good”
  • Comments from participants:
    “Excellent- examples were relevant and material was present very clearly and warmly.”
    “Well presented and informed.”
    “Good material and points. I look forward to more trainings.”
Trauma-Informed Services for Children, Youth, & Families
Trauma looks different across the lifespan; children’s reactions to trauma can be misinterpreted as hyperactive, oppositional, defiant or violent. By focusing on safe coping in children and learning how to interpret unsafe behavior as nonverbal messages, staff and programs can increase the effectiveness of specific interventions that they are using. Participants of the training will learn Gordon Hodas’ approaches to trauma-informed children’s programs.
  • Average Participant Evaluation: 3.89/4.0
  • 99.3% of participants’ responses about the training were “excellent” or “very good”
  • Comments from participants:
    “Very dynamic and engaging presenter! Discussions were informative and thought-provoking.”
    “It was great, I really enjoyed and now I have some ideas about how to continue to move towards increasing trauma-informed services in my program.”
    “Excellent, one of the best, totally related to this agency and our services.”
Women, Substance Abuse, and Trauma

This training reviews the research, including the Women with Co-Occurring Disorders and Violence Study, into how women’s substance abuse and dependence issues are closely connected to early and later life trauma. The training will review curricula recommended for gender-responsive services as well as an agency assessment on gender-responsiveness and the core competencies for a gender-responsive substance abuse/mental health program.

Working with Elders with Child Abuse Histories
Research into the affects of child abuse and subsequent traumas over the lifespan will be reviewed. Participants will learn many of the issues related to why victims of child abuse, specifically child sexual abuse, never disclose until late in life. Participants will engage in a strategic discussion of the services and gaps for elder victims of child abuse.
  • Participants reported a 33% average increase in knowledge after this training.
  • Comments from participants:
    “I am excited to implement what I learned and improve myself in my role.”
    “I enjoyed the energy of the trainer — very informed on the topic!”
    “This was one of the best presentations I have attended. Outstanding!”
Working with Former or Current Sex Workers

This training goes over the research and known association between childhood trauma and adolescent and adult sex work. Additional trauma, substance abuse, and criminal justice involvement issues often co-occur. Participants will be given suggestions on prevention and intervention curricula appropriate for populations engaged in sex work.