Message of Restoration Permeates Trauma Training at Andrews University

Program is an attachment-based intervention designed to meet the needs of vulnerable children.

Pearl Parker, Andrews University, and Adventist Review
Message of Restoration Permeates Trauma Training at Andrews University
Participants engage in trauma training held at Andrews University. [Photo: Darren Heslop]

The Andrews University International Center for Trauma Education & Care recently held its first Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) training of the year. This 24-hour training was divided into three full sessions on February 18, 25, and March 4, all held on the school campus in Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States. 

The training was led by Ingrid Slikkers, assistant professor of social work and executive director of the Trauma Center, and Charity Garcia, associate professor of curriculum and instruction and the director of education initiatives in primary and secondary schools.

Slikkers described the training sessions as “pretty cool God moments.” “It’s always exciting to not only have students and faculty from different disciplines come together but with the added community professionals, all eager to serve children, it was amazing to hear the conversations and the community that was being developed,” Slikkers said. “Because of the connections that were created, those present have asked that we organize quarterly meetings. Supported by funds from CASA of Southwest Michigan through a Spectrum Lakeland grant, we will implement this initiative, calling these meetings ‘Connect & Collaborate.’”

TBRI is an approach to child intervention developed and promoted by the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development. Slikkers explains that TBRI is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. TBRI addresses children’s physical needs, attachment needs, and correction needs to disarm fear-based behaviors. It is based on extensive research on attachment, sensory processing and neuroscience, and the primary focus is the connection between a child and the caregiver. This training has been used successfully in orphanages, courts, residential treatment facilities, group homes, foster and adoptive homes, churches and schools, and has been used with children and youth of all ages and risk levels.

Attendees included faculty and students from the Andrews University School of Social Work and Department of Teaching, Learning & Curriculum, as well as leadership from the Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) of Southwest Michigan, the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Michigan, Sylvester Elementary School, area therapists from Bridges of Courage Counseling, Psychological Associates, and Child & Family Psychological Services staff from Berrien County Health and Human Services, along with pastors who work with children.

“It was fantastic to have students and faculty from the Department of Teaching, Learning & Curriculum in the training along with others in the education field, like the Sylvester Elementary leadership team,” Garcia said. “It was wonderful to have us all working across experience levels and sectors within education but also with others in social work and other disciplines.”

James Mello, a social work student, shared his experience. “The TBRI training was a great experience for me both as a parent and as a professional in social work. I learned even more about the way kids process their emotions and how to help them learn the necessary skills for emotional regulation. Doing this for young people enables resiliency to occur so that they can grow up to be well-adjusted adults. I’m really grateful I am learning these skills and am already applying them in many settings.”

Leaders of the International Center for Trauma Education & Care said it is growing in its ability to train and empower caregivers around the world, most recently training leaders in Ukraine and Poland. The center officially opened in September 2019, and its message of hope and healing has already had a tremendous impact on the lives of many individuals, they said. The educational approaches used at the center are wholistic, spiritually informed, culturally sensitive, and long lasting. According to its website, the center’s primary goal is to help facilitate long-term healing from trauma and offer trauma-informed awareness, education, and tools to support healing in organizations, churches, and communities across the world.

The original version of this story was posted on the Andrews University news site.

Pearl Parker, Andrews University, and Adventist Review