I became trauma-informed

Beth SarverBy Beth Sarver, Trauma Outreach Coordinator at Truman Medical Center Behavioral Health

Have you ever sought to find your place to thrive? What if you could find the community or organization where you could leverage all of your skills and passionate purpose, all while continuing to learn and grow with others?

Three years ago, I began this journey, and it has transformed my life. Finding the trauma-informed care movement in KC provided me the opportunity to build the connections that I have as a human being, a parent and most dynamically, as a professional.

As an artist, educator, community builder and youth advocate, I have built my career on working with ideas that are central to my own experience (childhood trauma, mental illness, divorce, shame, suicide attempts, poverty, loneliness) … the journey to be successful, happy, healed and whole.

Most humans compartmentalize all of the different facets of life so that they are easier to manage. The "Don't bring your personal life to work" train of thought is a clear example of this. Trauma-informed care says, "actually, yes, do this," but in a productive way that helps you understand and improve your relationships with those around you — coworkers, friends, clients and customers, to name a few. The movement to foster trauma-informed systems of care demonstrates how crucial it is for individuals and organizations to develop an integrative framework for achieving personal goals and organizational success.

As I researched trauma-informed care, I began to see how my own childhood trauma had shaped my brain and thought patterns. I saw that a basic, novice-level understanding of brain science deepened my own self-awareness and compassion. As I became educated about the physiological impacts of trauma on the brain and beliefs of survivors, I knew that I had to integrate this information into my life practice and professional perspective. I also recognized that this new body of knowledge inspired me to refine my way of teaching, learning and parenting. I was truly seeing how everything was connected!

The trauma-informed perspective illuminates the way that trauma not only impacts the brain and disrupts our body systems, but also the key social systems; including how we build relationships, fall in love, work in teams and take care of ourselves. Thus everything, from education and health care to criminal justice and community building, is impacted by the legacy of trauma.

According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, we can assume that 64 percent of the general population of the U.S. has had at least one significant type of childhood trauma. Individual, community, inter-generational and historical trauma are all playing a significant role in the world we live. It seems that there is a herd of elephants roaming our systems of care, our communities, and our very own reflections in the mirrors that we pass. We have gotten so “comfortable” with them that we simply keep moving. When we foster a deepened understanding about trauma and what it does, we can shift our perspective as individuals and change the trajectory of the organizations that serve us.

On this path ahead, as the trauma outreach coordinator for Truman Medical Center, I have been blessed to witness the power of this movement growing in incremental ways, one aha moment at a time.

Learn more about how the brain is impacted by our experiences.
Learn more about the ACE Study.



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HCF's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact HCF Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at jsykes@hcfgkc.org.



About Bridget's Blog

Bridget McCandless

Bridget McCandless, MD, MBA, FACP, HCF President/CEO

Bridget McCandless is the President/CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and is a Board Certified Internal Medicine Specialist with an interest in chronic disease management and poverty medicine. She shares her thoughts and perspectives on health and policy issues that impact the health of the community as a whole.

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