Perspectives (June 2017)
Sara Merz, Executive Director
Last week, I went to Buncombe County, which has been doing incredible work with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and resilience, and with the trauma informed approach, in their school system and across the county. Leading up to that visit, and in talking with people there, I’ve been hearing about the Community Resiliency Model (CRM). CRM is research-informed and developing further evidence. It’s one method used to mitigate the impact of ACEs. It defines a “resilient zone,” which is a range that varies for different people, broad or narrow or anywhere in between, where people respond to stressors with resilience.
The idea is people can get “knocked out of” the resilient zone. One response is to go upward to the “high zone” – to become edgy, irritable, have angry outbursts, or anxiety or panic. Another response is to go to the “low zone” where people feel depression, sadness, or fatigue, and may feel isolated or numb. There are specific things taught in the CRM model to broaden the “resilient zone.” It’s a train-the-trainer model so someone in an organization can learn it, and then teach others how to do it with those they serve.
A strength of the CRM model is it can be used in settings where it impacts everyone; nobody has to do the ACEs assessment or other assessment to use the tools, and the benefit is “universal,” rather than targeted to specific people. The reason this is a big deal is that given the concepts of the “high” or “low” zones, we may be able to identify people who would benefit from more resiliency – whey they get visibly upset or angry. And, many people experiencing high stress don’t show it. They may be the quiet kids who never give cause any trouble or act out. Those people may be experiencing just as much trauma and not showing it because they internalize rather than externalize. So universal practices like CRM have a major benefit because they benefit everyone – not just the people who are showing symptoms of high stress.
We continue to be energized and move forward on ACEs/resilience next steps. For the many people who volunteered to take specific follow-up actions, following our spring film screening of Resilience please know that AHA’s Board and staff are working to define an outcome based plan so that we use everyone’s time and energy for greatest impact. It will include putting together a steering committee and advisory board, and charting a path for the next year.
I’ve run into a few people who were at the film screening we hosted in the spring who have said, “I think about this movie every day.” AHA is lending out the film to those who want to show it to colleagues and other groups. Contact us if you’d like to do the same; you can view the Resilience trailer here.