Renee Fox


WARREN — Interacting with children, teens and adults who have been through traumatic experiences takes a special set of skills.

For the first time in Trumbull County, a summit was held to help educate the people who may interact with people affected by trauma about the best treatments and practices for helping them.

Trauma-informed care offers more in-depth solutions and therapies for people who have been through all types of trauma — such as losing a loved one, living with a parent with substance-use disorders, devastating accidents, living in an abusive home and a myriad of other traumatic experiences.

Bonnie Wilson, coordinator of Family and Children First Council of Trumbull County, said Timothy Schaffner, executive director of Trumbull County Children Services, has been pushing for years to create more trauma-informed care opportunities in Trumbull County and helped recruit a committee to make it a reality in the county.

Now, nine behavioral health service providers, including children services, domestic violence shelters and other mental health providers, are using an assessment tool to learn more about the trauma affecting local people, sharing the information and putting plans together to create policies and procedures to best address the clients’ needs.

The summit, The Family and Children First Council of Trumbull County’s Resiliency Summit held Friday at Kent State at Trumbull, “is a call to action for the community to change, heal and rise.”

Keynote speakers included Dr. Bobbi Beale, an expert in designing non-traditional therapy programs for youth populations with trauma histories, and Angela Earley, the first private practitioner in the state of Ohio to be certified in the neurosequential model of therapeutics, and profiled local leaders sharing how they have incorporated trauma-informed care and resiliency principles in their practices.

Representatives from several school districts, including Youngstown, Warren and Champion, and representatives from Mercy Health, Geauga, Lake and Columbiana counties also attended, Wilson said.

Amber Stiles-Bodnar, at Blue Star Family Counseling in Cortland, gave an informative session on eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. The therapy is growing more popular because of its success, Wilson said. The therapy helps clients deal with distressing elements of trauma from the past by using outside stimulus.

The summit also included sessions on the benefits of yoga and mindfulness training, Wilson said.

“It is a growing technique to handle anxiety in schools and juvenile justice centers because it helps them deal with their challenges and issues. It has been useful and helpful because it helps kids get centered in the moment,” Wilson said.

It also is important for caregivers to watch for the effects of secondhand trauma, Wilson said. The stress from working with people with trauma can have a negative effect on one’s health, she said.

“Self care is important because we have to take care of ourselves, too. If I am not taking care of myself, I am not healthy enough to take care of someone else,” Wilson said.

Self care looks different for everyone, Wilson said. For some, it might be reading a book, exercising, spending time with pets or people, listening to music and other activities that leave you feeling content and satisfied, rather than stressed.