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Treasures and Traps

Treasures and traps, conveniences and con-artists; the internet brings it all to our doors. Last week a group of about 20 staff at AK Child & Family – new orientees and seasoned veterans alike– got together to join in a live webinar on “TIP & Trauma Informed Care.” Sure, we could have all called in individually from our cubbies, couches or cars, but coming together to learn new material is a powerful experience. We build a sense of community in our work place when we choose to learn together; participants exchanged knowing glances when material presented resonated with our agency’s values, and smiles when the presenter advised us to redefine “fun” as “negative arousal reduction” for our Medicaid notes!

“TIP” or the “TIP Model” is an evidence-based, community-based, model for working to improve outcomes for young people from the age of 14 upwards, as they begin to transition towards independence. It is a model our agency, and several others here in Alaska, use to help us support the young people in our care. You can find out more about it at

“Trauma Informed Care,” is perhaps a little harder to define, but it essentially requires us to consider an individual’s current functioning in light of their past experiences. In doing so consistently and deliberately, we can come to redefine “problem” behaviors as strengths, as adaptations a young person has made to stay safe in world where his or her needs have been neglected (the most common type of child maltreatment), or where hurt and abuse have dominated. Another way to think about Trauma Informed Care, is in the central question we ask about the person before us – do we fall back on “Hey, what’s wrong with this kid?,” or, with respect and curiosity do we wonder “What has happened in the life of this child?” Some great places to find out more about Trauma Informed Care include The National Child Traumatic Stress Network at and Dr. Bruce Perry’s Child Trauma Academy at

What pearls of wisdom did we glean from our webinar? All of us in the room probably took away something different. Because it resonates so strongly with what we teach at AK Child & Family, I was gratified to be reminded that “relationship building” is a “keystone principle” of both the TIP Model and of Trauma Informed Care; I was excited about a promised resource on how to carry out a “Strengths Discovery” with a young person using a trauma lens; I was inspired by a slide at the end of the presentation that reinforced that healing trauma is everyone’s business; and of course I left motivated for that all-important self-care strategy: Negative Arousal Reduction!

The “TIP and Trauma Informed Care” webinar is over, but there are a number of wonderful webinars available online, including at the websites listed in this article - so log on, grab a notebook & a cup of coffee, and make sure you get a crowd together - as one of our Clinical Therapists, Donna, wisely pointed out, that way you can make sure that setting up the technology is someone else’s problem!