WHY this Conference?

Being a representative responsible for enrolling an audience for an event is a job, but when “something” begins to creep under my skin and edge its way into my heart, it then becomes so much more than just a job. It’s more challenging in a sense because I care about the outcome not just from “a job well done” place, but because I care…I care about the mission; building a community that is so connected, yet diverse, anchored to a common calling that will ultimately change lives through healing, save families, and promote a caring, educated society. I care deeply about the outcome of this conference— it has become personal.

I was having a conversation with my partner this morning about this blog. We want this blog to be a platform for all that are aligned on changing the stigma around mental illness, and who are wanting to be a part of  healing the generations, literally.  We want to know why it is important to you. Why is it personal?

There is something so much bigger than ourselves happening here. And when I say “ourselves” I’m not just eluding to the individual, but I am including families, organizations, schools, hospitals, healthcare professionals, and government. WE are ALL in this together. TOGETHER, in educating our society about trauma and the mental and physical integrative approaches available for healing children, adults and families. The “We” has far more power and influence vs. the “Me”. A mentor of mine said, “There is far more strength, power and heat in one ginormous raging inferno, than several little camp fires that barely keeps our toes warm.”  Every speaker and presenter attending the conference is aligned on this one belief, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE and YOU MATTER!”

Being a survivor of childhood trauma, I grew up longing to to fit in, to be noticed, and to belong.  Loneliness and isolation tear down the human spirit at it’s core, and many of us are not as lucky as I have been to turn my personal story into a “Divine Trauma” to quote my business partner Monica Rodgers.  This is why I am so invested in this conference being well attended.  It’s become personal…we need each other…to make a difference.

“WE” builds a bigger awareness and grows more compassion that will help heal OUR generations.

Please comment and share your thoughts and stories here…be a part of the conversation.  To register for this years Child and Family Trauma Conference please click here.


To more being revealed,


Andrea Willets, CPCC

Clifford Beers Clinic Representative


Children: Resilient or Re-Silent?

The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University has been studying the effects of  toxic stress on a child’s brain, and what happens to a child he when he or she is exposed to prolonged periods of tension, stress, neglect, or abuse of any kind; and the findings are devastating.

The expression “children are resilient” should be re-interpreted as“children are re-silent” because it might be more appropriate in some cases….

When children have been repeatedly mis-treated, their means of adapting and surviving has everything to do with how they suppress their pain, and cope with their reality, developing sophisticated ways of interacting with the world that have everything to do with their instinct to stay safe.  Children are experts in imagination, and this skill becomes incredibly useful when they are working to overcome circumstances from which they feel they cannot escape. The world of “pretend” is one that all adults can easily comprehend- pretending that everything is ok when it’s not can serve us for a time, until it doesn’t. In the case of children, their ability to pretend everything is ok has a direct correlation to their ability to survive it.

The impact of adverse experiences leaves a child feeling a host of dis-empowered emotions including loneliness, abandonment, frustration, sorrow, anger, and worthlessness.

Children are very adept at “coping” when they don’t have any other choice- and so from exterior appearances, we make assumptions about their well-being that are far afield of the more realistic and lasting behavioral issues that will plague mis-treated children for the better part of their lives.

Learning how to cope with adversity is an important part of healthy development. While moderate, short-lived stress responses in the body can promote growth, toxic stress is the strong, unrelieved activation of the body’s stress management system in the absence of protective adult support. Without caring adults to buffer children, the unrelenting stress caused by extreme poverty, neglect, abuse, or severe maternal depression can weaken the architecture of the developing brain, with long-term consequences for learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health.

This video is part three of a three-part series titled “Three Core Concepts in Early Development” from the Center and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. The series depicts how advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, and genomics now give us a much better understanding of how early experiences are built into our bodies and brains, for better or for worse. Healthy development in the early years provides the building blocks for educational achievement, economic productivity, responsible citizenship, lifelong health, strong communities, and successful parenting of the next generation. – Center on the Developing Child 

Watch this video to gain insight into how the body and brain respond to toxic stress, and please leave any comments in our comment section- we’d love to hear from you!


Adverse Childhood Experiences = Aces too High

Over the last 15 years, research has shown that childhood trauma injures a child’s brain. It impairs the brain’s physical development and function. You can see the effects of trauma on a brain scan. The result: These adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) cause kids to have a hard time learning, making friends and trusting adults. They can’t keep up in school, so they shut down or get in fights. They’re the “problem” kids. Schools suspend them. There’s lots of ways for kids to cope with their trauma. Alcohol. Drugs. Smoking. Food. Kids become daredevils and break their bones. Sleep around and get STDs. Grow up too fast and become workaholics. - Aces too High

There is a starting amount of new information on the subject of childhood trauma, and how “trauma” experienced in early childhood can literally haunt them for the rest of their lives unless they become aware that their experience is valid, and that they are not alone.  It’s becoming ever more urgent that childcare professionals, parents, psychologists, teachers, and caregivers get the proper information, and continuing education so that they can more powerfully assist these children on their path to healing and wholeness.

So how do you help spread awareness, and get involved in being part of the solution?

Well, the first thing to realize is that if you are reading this post- the likelihood that you actually qualify as someone who is carrying the impact of trauma into your adult life is a startling 70%.

Many of us have had the kinds of experiences that qualify as trauma and that have a lasting impact on us, wrecking havoc on our sense of self, our relationships, and even our ability to learn and perform our job efficiently.

The first step to identifying it’s impact is to understand that childhood trauma does not have to look like the worst scenario you can think of- in fact, all it can take is a child  who is repeatedly exposed to stressful situations or even prolonged tension at home or in another environment.  Could this be you?

Check out the Aces Too High website, to learn more, and while you are there, please score yourself by answering the questions you see below:

Prior to your 18th birthday:

Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorce, abandonment, or other reason ?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Was your mother or stepmother:

Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide? No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Did a household member go to prison?

No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Please go to this page to add up your score: http://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/

( excerpts taken from Aces Too High at www.acestohigh.com)

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