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Members of the Parish Liaison Network learn about trauma informed care

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Look around you. Chances are you, or someone you may know, have gone through a traumatic event.


Veronica Roth, program director of Catholic Charities’ St. Margaret of Cortona Family Residences in Woodbridge, introduced members of the Parish Liaison Network to trauma informed care at St. Theresa Church in Ashburn Sept. 13.


“It is important to ask what happened to you, not what is wrong with you,” said Roth. “Something happened that created this behavior problem.”


According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, trauma is defined by events, the individual’s experience and effects. Reactions to trauma or a trauma trigger can be short- or long-term and manifest emotionally, physically, relationally, spiritually, behaviorally or cognitively.


Roth said childhood trauma has an adverse effect on children, including cognitive impairment, the adoption of health-risk behaviors, disease, disability and social problems that even lead to an early death if not addressed.


Roth said trauma informed care means realizing, recognizing, responding and not re-traumatizing the individual. To build resilience in trauma survivors, Roth said people need a sense of safety, information and healthy coping skills, hope and optimism, as well as a sense of connection and supportive relationships.


Trauma dramatically affects brain development, can impact DNA and in high doses can even shorten life expectancy by 20 years, she said.


But hope is not lost.


“This is manageable, preventable and redeemable,” she said.


Roth explained the connection between Catholicism and trauma informed care.


“Trauma informed care recognizes the humanity of those in need, witnesses the vulnerable, respects the dignity of the individual, acknowledges injury to the body, mind and spirit, strives to create no further harm and promises the hope of healing,” she said. 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019