Non-Profit Leadership: How much trauma training is enough?

One of our challenges in non-profit leadership are the many demands of providing training to our staff. Our organizational and programmatic requirements are significant. We need to provide staff with training for their individual jobs, for the use of technology, in legal issues that they confront each day, for specialization functions that they execute and the list goes on and on. We begin each year by providing an entire week of training for staff and we add 3 more days for new staff orientation. We then provide more training all throughout the year. 

Because Lakeside provides a comprehensive menu of trauma training to professionals and organizations, we are exposed to the many demands on professionals in our systems of care who face the difficult realities of individuals who have been impacted by some form of trauma.

These professionals need to know how to build the long road of trust with many individuals who have been victimized. They also need to identify some of the barricades that prevent these individuals from hearing and understanding their own deficits and needs. They are sometimes hard to reach because of their learned stress responses and coping mechanisms. They are sometimes medicated, addicted, anxious, hyper-vigilant, dissociative, depressed and sometimes angry. Professionals also need to learn what therapeutic and relational tools are appropriate depending on what the individual is experiencing. They also need to educate families about how trauma has impacted their loved one. This is a huge responsibility and in and of itself comes with an entire body of knowledge and skills.

As non-profit leaders we are often confronted with the overwhelming needs of the clients we serve. We also know that if our staff members are dealing with the trauma of their clients that they also have secondary trauma which dysregulates them.  Another important part of trauma training is for staff members to know how to help themselves when they are experiencing their own trauma related to those they serve and the difficult impact they have on staff members.

As you can see this is complicated and rather pervasive. At Lakeside we believe it takes about 120 hours of trauma responsive training to certify a professional to be trauma competent.  Most of our participants believe that they could use even more than that.  Further, we manage Dr. Sandra Bloom’s organizational trauma responsive certification training which takes an organization approximately 2 years to process through. Yet our typical training opportunities are usually a few hours per year per professional because of limited time allowed for trauma instruction in their required training. 

As we provide our trauma training in systems and organizations, we have found it difficult for many non-profit leaders to allow the needed training required to equip their staff members to become trauma informed and responsive. In fact, I have found some organizations that have had no formal trauma training. There is just too much demand and too little time. However, without it, staff are often ill-equipped to understand and help their clients.

Since I operate a non-profit, I understand the challenges of providing enough trauma training for our staff to be competent. It is more than challenging to run schools, provide clinical care and do all the training required. What I can say is how important it is for me as the CEO to be committed to it so we will make the time and create the resources for our staff’s training.

Since I am concerned for our professional community, I have committed to make trauma training as accessible as possible. Our training will soon be released asynchronously so that it will be available to everyone on our website very inexpensively. Further we train groups virtually live and we still have live training available both with our workshops and more extensive courses. For organizations we offer Dr. Bloom’s organizational certification program, Creating PRESENCE which would include every individual within an organization regardless of their role.

I believe every non-profit leader should be invested in providing trauma training for their staff.  It is a process that will yield huge dividends to staff, clients and organizations. I hope every non-profit leader will consider providing their staff with quality trauma responsive training on a continuing basis. 

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