Investing in your people has taken on new meaning at For All Seasons, an outpatient behavioral health services agency on the Mid Shore. Today, all of For All Seasons clinicians are trauma certified, something the agency believes is critical to providing the best mental health services available.
According to Lesa Lee, LCSW-C, Clinical Director at For All Seasons, six months after being employed, all For All Seasons clinicians enroll in an 80-hour trauma certification program at the Ferentz Institute in Baltimore, MD. Classes are completed over a three-month period, culminating with the clinician taking an exam or writing a paper about what they have integrated into their mental health practice. The certification is completely paid for by For All Seasons.
Lee, who herself is Level II Trauma Certified, comments, “It is extremely unusual to have all trauma certified clinicians. Our executive director, Beth Anne Langrell, shares the vision that as clinicians we need to be as educated as much as possible to work with the people who come through our doors. It is our ethical responsibility to do this if our focus is to work with trauma survivors.”
The Ferentz Institute provides an exciting, supportive, professional environment for clinical social workers and other mental health professionals to gain an in-depth understanding of the myriad dynamics related to trauma and its reverberating effect on clients.
Lee points out, however, that For All Seasons staff doesn’t end their education with trauma certification and that it is only one piece of the education staff pursue while investing in their learning. An example of staff commitment to continuing education is a trauma-focused book club in which clinicians invest their own time and money.
Trauma can be defined as someone’s subjective experiences to events that for them are uncontrollable, impacting their belief system, emotions, relationships and how they interpret situations that may trigger their body. Traumatic instances can include sexual and physical abuse, neglect, emotional abuse, war, and horrific events which are experienced. Trauma can also happen from divorce, death, separation, car accidents, abandonment and adoption. Lee states, “What might be traumatic to one person is not traumatic to another.”
Lee states that depending upon how people were supported after a traumatic incident. Who the person(s) is/are that caused harm can also determine how a person deals with their experiences and the coping skills that they develop. She adds that often times, we see negative coping skills like zoning out, self-injury or substance use as negative. People often seek out mental health services because the coping skills that helped them survive the trauma do not work anymore. She adds, “When people come in, whatever behaviors and beliefs they have learned, we help them re-learn new ways to manage their emotions, body sensations and beliefs so they are able to feel safer and in more control of their lives. Understanding a person’s history is important to understanding how to help them.”
Clinicians have different modalities that they use to treat trauma; some use cognitive behavioral therapy, body-centered therapy, art therapy, play therapy, and internal family system. At For All Seasons, all age groups are treated. While all 28 For All Seasons clinicians work with children through adults, some have specialties in specific age groups. People who have been affected by trauma often present with a change in behavior or in adults, they can present with symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Pictured left to right are Lesa Lee, LCSW-C, Clinical Director and Jenny Jarrell, LCSW-C, Associate Clinical Director. Today, all of For All Seasons clinicians are trauma certified, something the agency believes is critical to providing the best mental health services available.