Friday, December 24, 2010

Sandra Bloom

The human service field in any state is large; Northstar, API, and Providence are the more well known facilities in Alaska. So it should come as no surprise that there are a variety of resources available to the mental health care worker. Sandra Bloom is well known for creating the Sanctuary Model and many books and articles describing it. Other resources include Ross Greene's The Explosive Child, Susan Thierman's The Discipline Gradient, and Michael Thompson's Raising Cain, written with Dan Kindlon. I just read an article by Bloom, The Sanctuary Model of Organizational Change for Children’s Residential Treatment, and would like to identify some of the points it contains.

According to Bloom, victims of traumatic experiences keep repeating the same destructive intrapsychic and interpersonal behaviors - the hallmark characteristic of stress being repetition and resistance to change. This dramatically affects their ability to learn and grow. And when self correcting skills that involve self-control and self-discipline fail to develop properly children are unable to keep themselves safe in the world. Therefore, a “trauma-informed” community must place an emphasis on safety in an environment where social normative standards are continually maintained and reinforced. Routine conflict resolution strategies, based on clear rules and consequences, are an additional tool. “Safety plans” should be created that are simple and straightforward and provide options for immediate steps that can be taken as soon as an individual finds him or herself in a stressful, challenging, or dangerous situation. (Awareness of each person's “action safety plan” as well as any identified triggers is important.) Individuals must learn skills to modulate emotional arousal (in response to memories, persons, events) so that emotion does not interfere with the cognitive processes necessary to ensure good decision making and problem-solving. Productive discourse depends on good communication and recovering individuals need to learn how to listen and how to talk - involving a willingness to temporarily reflect on the past, create a culture of inquiry to examine the present, and make a commitment of sufficient time to engage in honest dialogue. This promotes an environment that encourages healing and social learning.

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