On April 16th New Vitae Wellness and Recovery, along with the Marywood University School of Social Work, sponsored and hosted a training entitled “Trauma-informed Approaches: Creating a Culture of Care” at the West End Fire Company in Quakertown. The presenter was Joseph F. Foderaro, LCSW, BCD; clinical social worker, lecturer, consultant, co-founder of the Sanctuary Model and co-author of SELF: A Trauma-Informed Psychoeducational Group Curriculum. Joe shared his expertise in developing a culture within an agency where every aspect of the culture is designed to help people heal from trauma. It was suggested that regardless of one’s position at an agency, one can make a positive contribution towards the healing, growth and recovery of program members. One of the most profound aspects of the presentation, according to participants, was the idea of changing the central question from “What is wrong with you?” to “What has happened to you?” Joe noted that when this shift occurs, the ways in which the person is perceived and is treated change dramatically for the better.
Joe talked about the impact of the ACE study, which stands for “Adverse Childhood Experience” study. In this groundbreaking investigation of the impact of childhood trauma, the Center for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego surveyed more than 17,000 adults regarding childhood experiences of abuse, neglect and family dysfunction. What the researchers discovered was that certain traumatic experiences have a direct impact on the prevalence of health and social problems. Children exposed to ACEs are vulnerable to poor health outcomes throughout their lives. The ACE Study findings suggest that certain experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life in the United States.
Joe shared that in 2012, the city of Philadelphia conducted what is called the Urban ACE Study. This study found that the prevalence of ACEs, or Adverse Childhood Experiences, was much higher in this urban setting. The study also examined the impact of the chronic stress—Foderaro called it the “Allostatic load”–associated with poverty, racism, discrimination, and feeling a lack of safety. It is critical to understand how some of the worst health and social problems in our nation can arise as a consequence of adverse childhood experiences. Realizing these connections is likely to improve efforts towards prevention and recovery.
Approximately two hundred people attended the training, which provided 2.0 Continuing Education Credits through the National Association of Social Workers. People traveled from as far away as Scranton and Pittsburgh to attend. Participants praised Foderaro’s enthusiasm and experience, stating that attending the training helped them realize the benefit of a “common sense and humanitarian approach” and left them “encouraged to find so many like-minded colleagues.” New Vitae Wellness & Recovery has had a long working relationship with Joe Foderaro… look for him in future trainings!