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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 8/28/2013

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Demystifying Trauma: Sharing Pathways to Healing and Wellness

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  • Richard Mollica, M.D., M.A.R., Director of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School
  • Beth Filson, M.F.A., CPS, Trainer and Curriculum Developer in Trauma-informed Peer Support and Peer Workforce
  • Elizabeth Hudson, M.S.W., LCSW, Trauma Services Coordinator, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Teleconference Overview

During this 90-minute webinar, you will learn how traumatic experiences and their impact are a nearly universal experience and how broad the impact can be on mind, body, spirit, and relationships. However, healing from these experiences is very unique to the individual. You will learn the power of a personal story in the recovery from trauma, recognize the value of the "person as teacher," and recognize the value of being an active listener. Relationships, especially peer support, can be a source of strength and transformation after trauma. Learn how to build peer relationships based on mutual needs. Gain strategies and techniques for listening in a way that is supportive and compassionate, but also allows listeners to cope with the emotional responses that may be triggered by painful stories.

Communities across the country are infusing the values of trauma-informed care into mental health and substance abuse services, peer-run organizations and communities, child welfare settings, schools, homeless shelters, and correctional facilities. Learn how Wisconsin has embraced these values statewide, engaging consumer leadership and diverse stakeholders across many social systems and services. Through this example, you will see that trauma-informed care is neither a prescriptive nor a dogmatic approach, but an ongoing process of continuous innovation that best meets and responds to the needs evolving from the culture of a community. You will gain strategies that can help you begin implementing a similar trauma-informed approach in your community.

The speakers will share their visions for the many healing pathways toward wellness and recovery.

You will learn how to:

  • understand the value of sharing one's story following a traumatic experience or event from an "evidence-based" perspective
  • explain how relationships strengthen and transform trauma survivors, and describe specific ways to build peer relationships based on mutual needs
  • apply new techniques in the role of a listener that support the notion of "person as teacher"
  • describe the values of trauma-informed care and how to put them into practice across many systems and social services

Relevant for:

  • people and families who have experienced trauma
  • people in recovery from mental health, substance use, and trauma-related challenges
  • peer-run organizations
  • behavioral health providers
  • primary care providers
  • staff of State and county mental health or behavioral health departments
  • staff and volunteers of faith-based and community-based organizations that support individuals and families recovering from trauma
  • community members interested in supporting others after a traumatic event

Speaker Biographies:

Richard F. Mollica, M.D., M.A.R., is the Director of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma (HPRT) of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He received his medical degree from the University of New Mexico and completed his psychiatry residency at Yale Medical School. While at Yale he also trained in epidemiology and received a philosophy degree from the Divinity School. In 1981, Dr. Mollica co-founded the Indochinese Psychiatry Clinic (IPC). Over the past two decades HPRT and IPC have pioneered the mental health care of survivors of mass violence and torture. HPRT/IPC’s clinical model has been replicated throughout the world

Dr. Mollica has received numerous awards for his work and is the author of the newly published book Healing Invisible Wounds: Paths to Hope and Recovery in a Violent World External Web Site Policy.. In 1993, he received the Human Rights Award from the American Psychiatric Association. In 1996, the American Orthopsychiatry Association presented him with the Max Hayman Award. In 2000, he was awarded a visiting professorship to Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan, for his contributions during the Kobe earthquake. In 2001, he was selected as a Fulbright New Century scholar. Under Dr. Mollica’s direction, HPRT conducts training, policy, and research activities for traumatized populations around the world. HPRT’s screening instruments are considered a gold standard in the field and have been widely translated into over 30 languages. HPRT’s scientific work has helped place mental health issues at the center of the recovery of post-conflict societies.

Dr. Mollica has published over 160 scientific articles. He and his team over the past 30 years have cared for over 10,000 survivors of extreme violence worldwide. Through his research, clinical work, and trainings he is recognized as a leader in the treatment and rehabilitation of traumatized people and their communities.

Beth Filson, M.F.A., CPS, is a trainer and curriculum developer in trauma-informed peer support and peer workforce training and development.  She is co-author of Engaging Women Trauma Survivors in Peer Support: A Guidebook, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and developed under SAMHSA’s National Center for Trauma-Informed Care. Beth is a consultant for the Self-Inflicted Violence and Healing Project, an initiative of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) and the Transformation Center. The project is cosponsored by DMH and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. Beth also co-facilitates Intentional Peer Support with Shery Mead and Chris Hansen. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and her master’s degree in fine arts from the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. She is a self-taught artist.  Beth resides in Western Massachusetts.

Elizabeth Hudson, M.S.W., LCSW,is employed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. She partners with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to integrate trauma-informed care into mental health and substance abuse systems, child welfare settings, school settings, homelessness services, and correctional settings. In 2009, Elizabeth and her supervisor, Marie Danforth, accepted the Wisconsin Association of Family & Children’s Agencies’ John R. Grace Outstanding Leadership Award on behalf of the Department of Health Services. The association made the award in recognition of the department’s work in promoting trauma-informed care and the reduction of seclusion and restraint. Elizabeth has worked in the field of trauma prevention and treatment for 20 years as an advocate, clinician, supervisor, and administrator. She received the National Association of Social Workers’ Award for Distinguished Service while working as a child and family therapist specializing in trauma work with children younger than 8. Elizabeth is a founding member of the national organization, Coalition Addressing Trauma, and regularly participates in national discussions regarding the integration of trauma-informed care across multiple human service systems.

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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.