Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) has impacted social services in recent years. Groundbreaking research has opened our eyes to underlying factors that impact the lives of youth and adults alike. It is a health epidemic that requires a call to action. But, what do we do with the research? What are the practical application measures? How do we provide equitable services? What are the best methods for reaching, helping, and working with children experiencing trauma?
In presentations, I discuss the practical applications I have used over the last ten years in urban education from elementary to high school. Now, the research has caught up with the successes I have found in my office and work with adolescents. For example, to move from the emotional part of the brain (amygdala) to the thinking part of the brain (prefrontal cortex), it takes 90 seconds to reset. When you look around the room and find facts (i.e., the wall is gray, the vase is white, the chair is blue, etc.), the brain will slowly move from processing emotion to thinking. Your body will relax thus leaving you in control of your emotions versus emotions controlling you. Strategies like this work for children and adults. It is just one of the various practical applications that will be taught, practiced, and adapted for immediate personal and professional use. To provide equitable services, we must meet children where they are with an understanding of the underlying adversities they have experienced.
Counselors regularly experience and assist clients in crisis. These clients impact the counselor due to the level of trauma that can remain after the crisis is handled (Dupre et al., 2014). It can be a positive or negative outcome for the counselor. The positive outcome can be vicarious resilience or posttraumatic growth (Dupre et al., 2014). The negative outcomes can include the “counselor’s personal and professional development, increasing the risk for difficult countertransference reactions, empathic strain, burnout, and compassion fatigue” (Dupre et al., 2014, p. 83-84).
As social services workers, we must practice what we preach through self-care and putting our oxygen mask on first before helping others. While these practical applications can be utilized for others, we should practice and use them in our own lives to ensure personal wellness.
To learn more about ACEs and practical strategies, join me at the Indiana Youth Institute’s College and Career Conference on June 5 and 6 in Indianapolis. Register here: http://bit.ly/IYICollegeAndCareer
About Sherri Barrow
Sherri is the Future Center Coordinator at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis. You can connect with her on Twitter @MrsBarrowIPS or on LinkedIn.
Dupre, M., Echterling, L. G., Meixner, C., Anderson, R., & Kielty, M. (2014). Supervision Experiences of Professional Counselors Providing Crisis Counseling. Counselor Education & Supervision, 53(2), 82–96. https://doi-org.library.capella.edu/10.1002/j.1556-6978.2014.00050.x