Research on brain activity shows trauma significantly impacts a person's ability to think and learn. Children and young adults in shelters and other care facilities affected by trauma often find learning, remembering and making choices difficult. This is especially true when it comes to understanding emotional and social interactions with others. So when caregivers are responsible for teaching and training tramatized clients in their care it's essential they understand how their clients learn. However, too often the time pressure and heavy workload for caregivers get in the way of learning how their clients learn.
Doorsteps has recognized this need for caregivers to understand how their clients learn. Therefore, a major component of our training provides capacity building for direct caregivers to understand the complexities surrounding trauma and learning.
Last month, we facilitated a 2-day workshop called "Learning to Learn" in which 20 national caregivers from five anti-trafficking shelters came together to learn how trauma affects brain functioning - the older or primitive part of the brain takes control when it perceives danger which in turn affects the part of the brain that processes new information. This can affect clients' ability to learn new skills, make choices and remember what they've learned. Participants of the training also learned, in interactive and practical ways, different learning styles and methods that can be harmful or conducive to creating a healthy learning environment.
Following the training, one caregiver said: Before this training I didn't know that the trauma our trafficked clients have experienced affected their learning. I did not understand their difficult behavior but this course showed me why that happens. Now I feel I can help them better and will not get as discouraged when it takes a long time to see change.
Our team at Doorsteps will follow up with all of the participating caregivers on how they manage to implement their new knowledge, and due to the satisfaction of all those who participated we plan to give similar trainings on a regular basis with shelter workers, managers, and those who work in community settings such as group homes or through foster care.
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