Skip to main content

Sanctuary: S.E.L.F

AK Child & Family is currently in the process of becoming Sanctuary Model certified. If you are unfamiliar with the Sanctuary Model, here’s the description in a nutshell: “a theory-based, trauma-informed, trauma-responsive, evidence-supported, whole culture approach that has a clear and structured methodology for creating or changing an organizational culture. It is a set of interactive tools to change people's minds and the way we go about working together, thinking together, acting together, and living together,” (

Since this is an overall organizational shift, it is necessary for ALL staff to be trained. This training began last week, and our goal is to have everyone’s first round completed by the end of December. I was able to attend two full day sessions of this training, which focused on Modules 1-10 of the Sanctuary Model. The module I most enjoyed was Module 6: on S.E.L.F, which I will explain in more detail below.

S.E.L.F is an acronym for Safety, Emotions, Loss, and Future.

S is for SAFETY. The model emphasizes 4 different kinds of safety: physical, psychological, social and moral/ethical. Physical safety is fairly self explanatory. It’s the idea that your body is safe from physical harm. Psychological safety refers to being safe with yourself, in terms of knowledge, self-esteem, self-control and self discipline. Social safety—we feel safe in our interactions and communications with others. Finally, moral/ethical safety embodies the “rules” we learned as children: play fair, don’t hit people, clean up your own messes, etc.—the basics.

E is for EMOTION. Within the context of the Sanctuary Model, this is referring to our ability to provide specific words for our feelings (mad, sad, glad, shamed, etc.) and manage these feelings without expressing or suppressing them, but rather, trading the actions behind these emotions in for words and communication.

L is for LOSS. A huge part of change is recognizing and even MOURNING the parts of our agency that we are leaving behind. These could be physical changes (buildings, positions, etc.), or changes in agency in overall behavior. While moving forward is important, in order to foster a successful future we must take time to mourn the losses that will inevitably occur. Which brings us to…

F is for FUTURE: looking ahead with vision and imagination, while actively making different choices and changing trajectories.

So what does S.E.L.F do for us?
• Fosters a shared language
• Organizes how we talk about treatment
• Keeps a focus on trauma
• Keeps a focus on growth & change
• Maintains consistent contact with team members, clients & families

I look forward to seeing the SELF model in action. It is easy to hear something in a training session, but applying it in real life is often a more difficult task. It will take ALL of us to make these changes stick and I am excited to pursue this venture with such committed staff. Keeping these four things in mind is a crucial part of our organizational shift and will greatly improve our agency and the work we are doing.

Here are some pictures from the training!

Don't let our faces fool you--we were enthusiastic!

Our trainers were awesome and made the experience fun and engaging!

Once our training was complete, we were all sanctuary-certified!

For more information on the Sanctuary Model, visit their website: .


(907) 346-2101 Jesse Lee & Maplewood Campuses

(907) 562-5340 Maley Center

Interested in being a therapeutic treatment parent? Click HERE!

Powered by Firespring