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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 Tuesday, October 22 – December 3, 2019 12:00 – 1:30 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


  • 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).


  • Prior to the October 22, 2019, view a 20-minute tutorial on how to use the videoconferencing platform
  • Attend a live one-hour online Orientation Session on Tuesday, October 22nd at 11:00 am Mountain Time / 12:00 pm Central Time
  • Commit to 6-weeks of training for 1.5 hours weekly on scheduled series days/times and complete ONE hour of weekly learning activities
  • Access to appropriate technology to utilize online videoconferencing platform (i.e., an internet connection, built-in or USB webcam, laptop/tablet, built-in/USB/Bluetooth speakers and microphone)
  • Be prepared and actively engage while on camera 90% of the scheduled series time


  • Kate Speck, PhD, MAC, LADC
  • Pam Oltman, MS, LIMHP, LADC


The first 40 registrants will receive a scholarship that covers the entire $250 cost of participation. As a grant sponsored scholarship and to receive continuing education hours, it is expected participants will view the 20-minute video tutorial; attend the live technology training; be prepared for and join each session; and actively engage in group discussions. Due to limited enrollment, if you cannot commit to the full participant requirements, please defer this registration opportunity to others.

Please Note: Registrants enrolled in this series are required to attend the October 22nd and October 29th sessions. If you cannot attend these sessions, you will forfeit your attendance. In addition, it is expected that participants will have access to the appropriate technology by November 5th to be able 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 is required.

Continuing EducationThe series has been approved for a total of 16 contact hours (15 hours content instruction and one hour technology 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. No credit will be awarded for non-attendance or partial attendance. 

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

QUESTIONS: please contact the Mountain Plains ATTC Staff at or by phone at 775-784-6265 or 866-617-2816 (toll-free).

Accessibility: If any accommodations are needed, please contact us at or by phone at 775-784-6265 or 866-617-2816 (toll-free). Requests should be made as soon as possible and preferably at least two weeks prior to the scheduled event.

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