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Integrating a Trauma-Informed Approach in Behavioral Health Settings

Over the past 20 years, a growing understanding of the pervasive and harmful impact of traumatic events on individuals, families, and communities has led to the emergence of research on the effects of trauma and treatment strategies to address mental health and substance use disorders. According to SAMSHA, trauma is a widespread, harmful, and costly public health problem, occurring because of violence, abuse, neglect, loss, disaster, war, and other emotionally harmful experiences. While many people who experience a traumatic event do not have lasting negative effects, others experience more difficulty with traumatic stress reactions. Research has documented the relationship between exposure to traumatic events and substance abuse. For example, approximately 20%-90% of individuals with a substance use disorder (SUD) have a history of childhood trauma and 37% to 52% have a Posttraumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis (Mergler et al, 2018). When it comes to trauma, there are no boundaries with regard to age, gender, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, geography, or sexual orientation.

This 7-week online learning series will increase the skill level of behavioral health professionals to define and recognize trauma in individuals. Helping individuals affected by trauma to manage their symptoms using a strength-based approach minimizes re-traumatization and enhances practitioners’ ability to provide trauma-informed support.


Every Wednesday, August 5 – September 16, 2020 from 10:00 – 11:30 am MT / 11:00 am – 12:30 pm CT


  • Identify initial and ongoing reactions to trauma
  • Review Identity Resilience and Posttraumatic Growth (PTG)
  • Explain the effects of trauma on various developmental stages
  • Identify common experiences that produce traumatic impact
  • Outline the Polyvagal Theory and brain/body responses to trauma
  • Conceptualize the system-wide impact of trauma informed care
  • Describe the core components of trauma and diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Review the relationship between childhood trauma substance use and suicidal ideation
  • Identify the key principles of a trauma-informed care in treating substance use and mental health disorders

Target Audience:

Professionals in Behavioral Health, Substance Use Disorders, Mental Health Disorders, Peer Recovery Support, and medical practitioners located in the Mountain Plains ATTC Region (HHS Region 8).

Participant Commitment & Expectations:

  • Access to appropriate technology to utilize Zoom videoconferencing platform (internet connection, webcam, laptop/tablet, speakers and microphone)
    • View a 20-minute tutorial on how to use the Zoom videoconferencing platform
    • Attend a 1-hour online Orientation on Wednesday, August 5, 2020
  • Commit to 6-weeks of online training for 1.5 hours weekly from August 12 – September 16, 2020
  • Complete weekly self-study learning activities


  • Kate Speck, Ph.D., MAC, LADC

There is No Cost to Participate:

The first 40 registrants will receive a waiver that covers the entire $250 cost of participation. Due to limited enrollment, if you cannot commit to the full participant requirements, please defer this registration opportunity to others.


Registrants enrolled in this series are expected to attend the August 5th and August 12thsessions. In addition, it is expected that participants will have access to the appropriate technology by August 12th in order to fully participate and be on camera at least 90% of the time. This is not a webinar series and active participation to gain/improve skills are required.

Continuing Education:

The series has been approved for a total of 16 contact hours (15-hours content instruction and 1-hour orientation session) through the National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC), and the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) ACEP No. 6492. CE credit will be awarded at the conclusion of the series for full-session participation. Make-up work will not be provided or accepted for missed sessions.

The knowledge and skills learned should be applied within the framework of any applicable Operating and/or Credentialing regulations in your State of practice.


Please contact the MPATTC Staff at or by phone at 866-617-2816 (toll-free).