Trauma Informed Care and the Future of Healing

Yesterday, I attended the NW Children's Foundation event "Community Trauma and Child Well-being" that brought together four amazing panelists: Shawn Ginwright, PhD, Ben Danielson, MD, Kaaren Andrews and Sheila Capestany, MSW, MPH. This event was very inspiring and reinforced again the important social justice and racial healing work that is happening in Seattle. I wanted to share some of my reflections from this event.

Healing centered engagement is the approach that Dr. Ginwright described in his book, Hope and Healing in Urban Education. He advocates this language rather than using the phrase trauma-informed care based on his experience working with youth and hearing from them: "I am more than what happened to me, not just my trauma." In his work with youth, he started to talk with them about their hopes and dreams and not just their trauma. This shift to healing centered engagement also reflects a move away from focusing on the individual to a deeper appreciation for collective responsibility and awareness of how toxic environments perpetuate harm. This approach identifies racism and systemic oppression as root causes of intergenerational trauma and emphasizes healing these foundational issues rather than merely coping with symptoms. Healing Centered Engagement is culturally grounded and views healing as the restoration of personal and cultural identity. It is a perspective that requires introspection and self-compassion for care providers to acknowledge and address their own healing. Dr. Ginwright indicated care providers need both a lens and a mirror so we can see the truth about others and ourselves with clarity. He acknowledged that healing is not easy, but there is always possibility for true transformation. His words were orienting and his work provides a clear call to action: “Our cures need to be explicit.”

Did you know that The Best Start for Kids Initiative was approved as a $400 million dollar Levy by King County voters 3 1/2 years ago? There are 2/12 years left. Sheila Capestany is a former Doula who is now the strategic advisor for BSK and described the plan to help put every baby born and every child raised in King County on a path toward lifelong success. BSK invests in prevention and early intervention strategies that promote healthier, more resilient children, youth, families and communities. It is considered the most comprehensive approach to early childhood development in the United States, starting with prenatal support, sustaining the gain through teenage years, and investing in safe, healthy communities that reinforce progress. I was very excited to hear from Ms. Capestany because I will be working with three other consultants (Ratnesh Biren, John Perkins and Teresa Poskony) as CORE - Consultants on Resiliency and Equity. We are part if a larger collective of consultants from across King County. We will bring equity training as well as reflective practices and supervision to Early Care Providers through this Workforce Development Grant funded by BSK. I am thrilled to be a part of this incredible collective. Ms. Capestany shared that what keeps her up at night is realizing the magnitude of the political and institutional will that is necessary to carry out this work. She shared some visions that she has for “Courageous Change” that will eventually shift the county budget fully toward prevention and promotion of health, happiness, safety and thriving for all citizens in King County. Two quotes that I am appreciating from her talk are these: “I want to create a north star for our community” and “I am going to move with love.” I am ready and eager to follow her lead and to bring the same measure of calm, focused and loving attention to my work.

I really appreciated the transparency and authenticity shared in this group of leaders and their steady determination to foster healing we need for social liberation to become a reality. As soon as the NW Children’s Foundation shares the slides from the event, I will post them here.