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Trauma-Informed Care

The release of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study showed, through longitudinal research, the negative correlation between trauma and life outcomes: the more traumas a person has experienced, the more likely they are to engage in high risk behaviors and suffer from chronic illnesses, including premature death.

It’s also well documented that children involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems have significantly higher incidences of trauma and chronic stress than the general US population.

However, with recent advances in neuroscience, we now know that it is possible to undo the damage caused by trauma and complex stress. The prefrontal cortex, the evolutionarily youngest part of our brain, does not stop developing until a person is in their mid-20s. This part of the brain is responsible for emotional regulation, problem- solving, impulsivity, personality, planning and organization.

For these reasons, YAP adopts a trauma-informed approach in our work with children, young people and their families. A trauma-informed approach changes the lens through which we view those we support, looking deeper and beyond the current challenging thoughts and beliefs or difficult behaviors to understanding how they may be impacted by current or past traumas and stresses. Trauma-informed care requires sensitivity to the physical, psychological and emotional needs of young people, and a very purposeful awareness of and effort to avoid re-traumatization and instead promote safety, healing, and positive development. YAP’s model is inherently aligned with the principles of Trauma-Informed Care: safety, choice, trust, empowerment, and collaboration. Our staff are trained in understanding and identifying trauma, how to create a trauma-informed relationship with their young people, how to avoid re-traumatization, and how to promote healing through their work with young people.

Our general approach is not clinical, but rather rooted in the development of a trusting relationship between the worker and the young person and what we know from brain research. We focus on helping youth to develop positive relationships with caring, positive adults, and on activities and interventions that build the cognitive and social-emotional skills kids need to develop to their full potential.

In some of our programs, YAP further has adopted interventions, such as Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy or Seeking Safety, to specifically therapeutically support the healing and development of our young people.

For more information, contact Carla Benway at cbenway@yapinc.org.