Trauma Informed Care Treatment at Excelsior

By: Chantae Thomas

Imagine you were in a car accident and you were rear-ended. The car that rear-ended you hit you so hard your car was pushed into on-coming traffic. This event, being quite traumatic, now resonates within you. The next week you are out driving and you stop at a traffic light. You happen to look in your rearview mirror and you see a truck approaching. Without thinking about it, you clinch your hands around the steering wheel, you stiffen your body in preparation for impact, you begin to perspire, and you squint your eyes to lighten the effects of the hit. However nothing happens. As you slowly open your eyes, release your grip from around the steering wheel, and relax your body, you realize you are fine and when the light turns green you proceed through it as normal. To some people the trauma they have experienced in life is like this and immediately they can realize that their world is okay and proceed ‘normally.’ For others, they may have the same scenario and the same reactions to the truck approaching them from behind but once their bodies have begun to physically respond to the fear of the truck approaching, they can’t normalize as quickly, so what do they do? To avoid an old trauma, they hit the gas and head right into oncoming traffic, leading to a new disaster.

If you have ever been in a situation like this, you will know the white knuckles, the racing heart, and your need to get away from danger — all are often beyond your control. The girls who come to Excelsior Youth Center have experienced trauma much more significant than that of a car accident. The impact of trauma associated with physical, sexual and emotional violence can be severe.

Excelsior Youth Center treatment is based on an understanding of the vulnerabilities or triggers of our young trauma survivors that traditional service delivery approaches may exacerbate. It is our goal that our services and programs can be more supportive to avoid re-traumatization. Trauma Informed Care (TIC) is a strength-based practice which helps individuals who have experienced trauma learn to understand their trauma and subsequent changes to their body and mind. EYC treatment programs recognize the following:
– The survivor’s need to be respected, informed, connected, and hopeful regarding their own recovery
– The interrelationship between trauma and symptoms of trauma (e.g., substance abuse, depression, and anxiety)
– The need for Excelsior to be strength focused and to work in a collaborative way with survivors, their families and the community in order to empower participation in the healing process

As Excelsior continues to implement the TIC model, it is our goal to provide a safe, therapeutic environment that gives our girls hope and optimism while they engage in all aspects of the treatment process to successfully reintegrate into the community.