Our second day with Dr. Perry gave us an opportunity to delve deeper into the theory underlying the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) and its application as a framework for clinicians to use and apply their own skills or training to. It also gave us a chance to hear from practitioners from around Australia about the application of the NMT in a variety of local settings. Continue reading “Insights from Dr. Bruce D. Perry’s Masterclass on Applying the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics”
Today we were thrilled to present Dr. Bruce D. Perry’s ‘Transforming Childhood Trauma’ workshop in Melbourne. It was an inspiring, thought-provoking day that delivered a wealth of insights for the audience to apply to their practice. In this post, we share some of our highlights from the day.
In the beginning of the presentation, Dr. Perry explained the complexity of the human brain. One of the fundamental principles about the brain is that it develops sequentially, from the simplest parts to the most complex. The cortex, which controls higher reasoning, isn’t fully developed until people reach their early 30s. The brain also processes information sequentially – the lower, less complex parts have ‘first dibs’ on incoming information. This has significant implications for how we respond to stress.
“Part of what we know about the brain is that we don’t know that much about the brain”
Berry Street believes that an important priority for the next three year action plan, as part of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children, should be the development of a national Trauma Informed Practice framework.
Director Public Policy & Practice Development
Over the last two decades strong evidence has been established of the impacts of childhood trauma arising from exposure to maltreatment, abuse, neglect and violence on healthy human development, and the need for children and young people to receive effective support to heal and recover from trauma.
We know more about the way trauma affects brain development, the consequences for the capacity of children to form healthy relationships with secure attachments and the behavioural challenges that traumatised children and young people present within their families, their broader network of relationships and within service settings from maternal and child health, early learning and care services, schools and the out-of-home care system.
In more recent years child and family welfare service systems have sought to respond to this evidence by developing ‘trauma informed’ policy, program and practice initiatives to support children and young people to recover and heal from childhood trauma.
I spent the week of May 12 -16 with the staff and residents at Sandhill Child Development Center in New Mexico. “Sandhill Child Development Center is a residential program for children ages 5 to 13 at admission, who are experiencing significant difficulties functioning in their current home, school or community due to an inability to regulate their emotional states. By repairing a child’s trust in care and adult guidance, Sandhill gives the child the tools necessary to proceed with a healthy and bright future. Sandhill Child Development Center emphasizes a relationally-based clinical approach that is grounded in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) developed by Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D. and The ChildTrauma Academy.” Sandhill takes children from all over the United States.
As one of the ChildTrauma Academy’s initial partner certification sites there was no question about visiting Sandhill. Having been at the implementation of neurodevelopmentally informed interventions in their residential treatment for some time now, I wanted to see for myself where they were up to and what discoveries they had made.
- Individual weekly therapy for the child
- Family therapy
- Parent training sessions
- Modelling sessions/co-parenting on site
- Animal Assisted Interventions
- Nutrition – provision of a “brain friendly” diet which strives to use many organic and whole foods.
- Exercise and recreation – including sports, team building, martial arts and other exercise based activities.
- Service Learning via voluntary interaction in the community
- Wilderness Adventure Therapy.
- Daily education
All of this provided on site or as part of the one program! Sandhill has capacity for up to 30 children and adolescents at any given time and their average length of stay is around 18 months. Read more about Sandhill Child Development Center here, at Chelle Taylor’s blog My Creswick Fellowship Tour.
Edited version of a post written by: Michelle (Chelle) Taylor, Clinical Psychologist and NMT Consultant, Take Two Program
It is great to be back in Melbourne with colleagues at the Berry Street Childhood Institute.
Since last October, we have thought about the potential of life story work with traumatised children as a service for young people as well as the need to consider new thinking and assessments for outcome research.
I am looking forward to meeting with friends and making new contacts as I travel eastwards to present with SAL Consulting in Sydney and Churches for Christ in Brisbane and Townsville. These events will be followed by life story presentations in Hobart and Melbourne for colleagues interested in this effective approach with traumatised children.
When working with young people and their carers, mainly around therapeutic life story, we share stories and learn about each other. In the same way, as a Fellow of Berry Street Childhood Institute, sharing thoughts and sharing approaches is always an essential ingredient to developing best practice… to meet and learn from those attending presentations and engaging within the workshop approach creates a perfect platform for theoretical and practice advancement.
This is my sixth year of sharing practice with organisations in Australia and my fourth with Berry Street (the last two years with Berry Street Childhood Institute). On this visit I have the opportunity to reflect on therapeutic care models in international settings that I have involvement with. In particular, how these therapeutic approaches can be incorporated within the service delivery for children and young people placed in out-of-home and home-based care at Berry Street.
Currently I am working with several projects in countries across the world on therapeutic interventions and evaluation processes. While in Melbourne, there is time to consider how we develop and introduce new thinking and new approaches to promote the best services for children and young people… watch this space!
Post written by: Richard Rose, Fellow, Berry Street Childhood Institute
Editor’s note: Register Now to attend Richard’s training in Hobart and Melbourne.
Pt 3 in a three part series on Berry Street Education
Dr Bruce Perry has informed our work at Berry Street. Moving beyond the medical model, we work with Dr Perry’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (and his emerging Neurosequential Model of Education) as a structure for understanding the neurobiological development of children who have histories of threat, neglect, humiliation, degradation, deprivation, chaos, and violence.
We are building upon the Berry Street Model of Education, which encompasses nine domains of our trauma-informed education, such as the importance of the integration of clinical, welfare approaches, building positive relationships, developing community/pathway linkages, etc.
Significantly, Berry Street has a commitment to teaching children in mainstream settings through the collaborative creation of the Child Safety Commissioner’s program: Calmer Classrooms.
Post written by Tom Brunzell, Berry Street Childhood Institute Senior Advisor, Teaching & Learning.
Pt 2 in a series on Berry Street Education
Building upon the foundation of academic rigour and our teachers’ curriculum design for deep-understanding, we turn our focus toward non-cognitive skills.
We define these skills as the performance capacities necessary to support persistent, resilient, growth-mindsets of learning. Research tells us that self-regulation is a better predictor of success than IQ. Developing the strengths of courage, gratitude, kindness, and curiosity hold equal importance as learning literacy decoding skills.
We hold the firm belief that Berry Street can be an innovative contributor to the education for our most vulnerable students by integrating our understanding of trauma’s effect on neurodevelopment and evidence-based practice from positive psychology, mindfulness and well-being.
Four key drivers:
1. Staff well-being and staff self-learning: Staff must have an in-depth understanding of well-being and working from a strengths-based perspective. How can staff best cultivate positive emotion and character strengths to be the best teachers/mentors for our students?
2. Dual-purpose, implicit curriculum: We seek to take our academic curriculum and revision it through a “dual-purpose lens.” How will we teach both a literacy objective and a lesson on persevering in the face of obstacles at the same time? Every lesson has the potential to teach cognitive skill and character strength.
3. Explicit and specific character learning: We believe that in addition to a dual-purpose curriculum, there are specific time-tabled ways to teach non-cognitive skills and through our own practice and refine these opportunities throughout the school day. (Ex: Sessions that incorporate our knowledge from therapeutic movement, martial arts, creative arts, and personal development / psycho-education curriculum)
4. Relationship based resiliency: Our teachers know that relationship is key to our student’s emotional-safety required for learning. How can we nourish relationships to increase our students’ hope for their own futures by understanding of non-cognitive skills?
Post written by Tom Brunzell, Berry Street Childhood Institute Senior Advisor, Teaching & Learning.