Firelands adds program for trauma informed care

Firelands Counseling and Recovery Services has instituted a new mental health group for adults to address trauma.

Robin Reaves, site supervisor, and Karen Goshe, therapy supervisor, described the trauma informed care program, which was made possible through funding from the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.

“It’s a focus within the state to start to recognize that a big percentage of the individuals that come in for treatment have a traumatic background of some type,” Reaves said.

Firelands used the funding to provide training for staff. The instruction was to help staff recognize the effects of trauma and learn ways to treat traumatized clients of all ages.

“Seeking Safety” is a group program that meets 3-5 p.m. Tuesdays.

To be part of “Seeking Safety” or another trauma therapy group, a person must have a diagnostic assessment and be a Firelands client. Individualized therapy also is available for people who need support in coping with trauma.

“We did put our staff through an intensive training onsite. We brought in a trainer on trauma-informed care that taught not only ways to recognize signs of trauma and ways to screen for trauma, but ways to treat from the youngest child into seniorhood,” Goshe said.

“Quite often, people will walk through our door without even realizing the reason they’re walking through our door is because of an underlying problem,” Goshe said. “Substance abuse in particular, nationally, 39 percent of all men in treatment for substance abuse have a background in trauma, and 59 percent of all women. And those are the ones that are reported.”

In the group, the leader discusses substance abuse issues and how it can become a cycle. Persons may experience a loss or other disturbing event and turn to substances to help them not think about it. At the same time, they put themselves at risk for more trauma and a larger consumption of substances.

Other topics covered include recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder, healthy detachment from pain, self care, forming new thinking patterns and recognizing triggers.

“Any services we provide, whether its our traditional services onsite, our emergency services or services at the jail, it’s to prepare our clinicians to go into that knowing there is a chance of trauma and how to address that during that service, and recognize how that’s impacting the person today,” Reaves said. “We implemented that into our services in a number of different ways.”

In addition to the adult trauma group onsite, Firelands is conducting therapy groups for adults at Seneca County Jail. Goshe said groups for children meet at Seneca County Youth Center.

Substance abuse usually is an outgrowth of trauma for which the person has no coping skills. Drinking may be a form of self-medication to take one’s mind off the disturbing event; however, alcohol also can cause physical damage to the body. Anti-anxiety medication may not be effective if it is not being absorbed property or if it reacts negatively with alcohol, Goshe said.

Reaves said people may be able to overcome trauma without medication by convincing themselves they are “all right.” Another incident years later

may trigger those same feelings of anxiety.

Reaves said the public needs to be aware of the possible effects of trauma. Goshe said every individual has a different definition of trauma. It takes many forms, but there are “no rules about what a trauma looks like.”

“If something is causing you difficulties or pain, it’s a trauma and nobody else gets to decide for you what trauma means. It’s very individualized,” Goshe said.

To learn more, call Firelands at (419) 448-9440.