Tag Archives: trauma informed

Thesis Blog 11: References

I’m keeping it short this week. Shout out to Susan for reading my stories and giving me feedback on some confusing parts. I appreciate the feedback and am going to start applying it when I dive into the editing process in the remaining weeks.

Below are my references by category. I still need to complete the annotated part, but at the very least I can show my sources for now. I will probably add a few more before the end.

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate – I am thankful for you all.

Thesis Resources and Categories


Held, V. (2006). The ethics of care: Personal, political, and global. Oxford University Press.

Raghuram, P. (2019). Race and feminist care ethics: Intersectionality as method. Gender, Place, and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geogragphy, 26(5), 613-637. https://doi.org/10.1080/0966369X.2019.1567471

Woodly, D., Brown, H. R., Marin, M., Threadcraft, S., Harris, P.C., Syedullah, J., & Ticktin, M. (2021). The politics of care. Contemporary Political Theory, 1-36. Advance Online Publication. doi: 10.1057/s41296-021-00515-8

Trauma Informed Care

Carello, J., & Thompson, P. (2021). Lessons from the pandemic: Trauma-informed approaches to college, crisis, change. Palgrave MacMillian.

Imad, M. (2021). Transcending adversity: Trauma-informed educational development. Education Development in the Time of Crisis, 39(3), 1-23. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3998/tia.17063888.0039.301

SAMHSA. (2014). TIP 57: Trauma-informed care in behavioral health services. https://store.samhsa.gov/product/TIP-57-Trauma-Informed-Care-in-Behavioral-Health-Services/SMA14-4816

SAMHSA. (2014). SAMHSA’s concept of trauma and guidance for a trauma-informed approach. https://ncsacw.samhsa.gov/userfiles/files/SAMHSA_Trauma.pdf

Van Der Kolk, B. (2015). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. Penguin.

Equity-Centered Trauma Informed Care

Anzaldúa, J. M. (2022).  Internationalizing trauma-informed perspectives to address student trauma in post-pandemic higher education. In  R. Ammigan, R. Y. Chan, & K. Bista, (eds), COVID-19 and higher education in the global context: Exploring contemporary issues and challenges (pp. 154-171). STAR Scholars. https://starscholars.org/product/covid-19-and-higed/

Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2017). Critical race theory (3rd ed). New York University Press.

Shevrin Venet, A. (2021). Equity-centered trauma informed education. W.W. Norton & Company.

Evidenced Based Practices

Shelton, R.C., Cooper, B. R., & Stirman, S.W. (2018). The sustainability of evidenced-based interventions and practices in public health and health care. Annual Review of Public Health, 39, 55-76. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-040617-014731

Vita, A., & Barlati, S. (2019). The implementation of evidence-based psychiatric rehabilitation: Challenges and opportunities for mental health services. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10, 147. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00147

Peer Support

Mental Health America. (n.d.). How to become a peer support specialist. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://www.mhanational.org/how-become-peer-support-specialist

SAMHSA. (2009). What are peer recovery support services? https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma09-4454.pdf

SAMHSA. (2009). Illness management and recovery: Practitioner guides and handouts. https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/practitionerguidesandhandouts_0.pdf

White, W. L. (2009). Peer-based addiction recovery support: History, theory, practice, and scientific evaluation executive summary. Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228459175_Peer-Based_Addiction_Recovery_Support_History_Theory_Practice_and_Scientific_Evaluation_Executive_Summary

Supported Education

OSECE. (n.d.). Supported education. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://osece.org/supported-education/

SAMHSA. (2021). Substance use disorders recovery with a focus on employment and education. https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/SAMHSA_Digital_Download/pep21-pl-guide-6.pdf


OHA. (2016). A trauma informed workforce: An introduction to workforce wellness. https://traumainformedoregon.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/A-Trauma-Informed-Workforce_An-introduction-to-workforce-wellness.pdf

Van Dernoot Lipsky, L., & Burk, C. (2007). Trauma stewardship: An everyday guide to caring for self while caring for others. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

An Outline For My Thesis: Proof I’m Actually Accomplishing Something

To prove that I do indeed have a plan for my thesis and I’m not just stalling for time while having absolutely nothing done, I am sharing a rough, but detailed outline of my Memoir of Care. I have the anchor stories holding the ship steady, now I just have to secure them together so it is less a mess and more a cohesive…mess. Without further ado, I present my outline and I’ve even included links to the stories if anyone wants to read and give me feedback (and I need all I can get):

Outline for unnamed “Memoir of Care”

  1. Introduction: What do I mean when I say “care” and how does this memoir of care contribute to a conversation on issues of care?
    1. This will kind of be a lit review/proposal to explain the theory behind the stories I am telling. I wish I could get across all the things I want to through the experience of reading my Memoir, but I know that isn’t going to work. So this piece will be what sets the scene theoretically and the stories will apply the theory to real life. My main themes are the following:
      1. Ethics of Care
      1. Evidence Based Treatments in Community Mental Health Agencies:
        1. Peer Support Specialist
        1. Supported Education Specialist
      1. Trauma Informed Care
        1. Equity Centered Trauma Informed Care
      1. Burnout/Vicarious Trauma

I know this is what the intro needs to be, and I have various pieces written here and there, but I don’t have a complete draft of this yet… coming soon.

  1. The Interview
    1. The story begins with the protagonist (me) in an interview for a peer support specialist (PSS) position – a job she has many mixed feelings about. In the course of the interview, the reader learns more about what the PSS position is and they are introduced to some “tools of care”. The questioning of what care is for the protagonist begins. 
  1. Shadowing Troy
    1. The protagonist begins working at the mental health agency. As part of the training for a new PSS, the individual is required to “shadow” other peers. The first shadow experience with a “high functioning peer” exposes the protagonist to some failures to care properly within the agency and within the client/provider relationship. We get the first glimpse into a client interaction.
  1. Jeff’s Unraveling
    1. The protagonist continues their shadowing with a peer who she is working in the same department with and who will alter her view of self-care. A shadowing experience with Jeff exposes her to the duality of how a peer can present themselves to a client as caring and yet be in a state of burnout. We learn that an unraveling is occurring, both in Jeff and the protagonist.
  1. Training Day 1
    1. This is my weird shit story. The protagonist has been working a few months now and already the signs of burnout are appearing. The story highlights the dynamics between the institution and the carers and the disconnect that often occurs between the two. We also find out more about the protagonists background and learn the significance of “story” as a “tool of care” within the PSS position.
  1. Training Day 2
    1. The cost of not having your story figured out comes to light in a second day of training. The power of language and a new vocabulary is explored in the context of a “person centered” practice. This again highlights another “tool of care” and furthers the questioning of the adequacy of this tool.
  1. Jon and the Library
    1. As Jeff gets progressively worse in his unraveling, the protagonist starts to step in for him and ends up having her first one-on-one with a client that she has visited before but only with Jeff present. It shows the conflicting feelings that go with the practice of caring: client victories and institutional policies.
  1. Crystal and the Dog
    1. Another client story that highlights in a painful way the failure of the proper tools of care. We see the impact of trauma on the client’s behavior and the signs of burnout in the protagonist. An example of how trauma informed care has to be practiced in situations that aren’t clear cut or easy to know what is the right thing to do.
  1. Deliah and the Rainy Day
    1. This was the first story I wrote that helped me see how I want to move forward with this memoir. It will need to go towards the end of the story because it is set at a point in the protagonist’s experience where she is at the high point of burnout and is looking for a way out. It shows the protagonist in a state of dissociated despair that mirror’s Jeff’s but she is mimicking his behavior of putting on a face with clients to keep the appearance of care going.

These are the pieces I have in semi-states of completion (i.e. they are written, but need editing and rewrites). Now my goal is to solidify things more by aligning things on a tighter timeline that will span from the time I started to the time I left (close to 3 years). I have a pretty good foundation started for the beginning, but I need to write the intro, have a story that shows the turning point in the middle, one that explains my experience of learning about trauma informed care, maybe one or two more client stories, when my unraveling comes to a head, and a kind of epilogue that shows how the crash and burn of my time as a peer support specialist and supported education specialist lead to a deep personal exploration about care and how Equity-Centered Trauma Informed Care has now become the focus of my personal life ethic. I am on track to have this done by the end of the month and then I will use the remaining time to edit.

The main issue I can see in these pieces that are done is that I am not being able to maintain the same voice through each. I have a very abstract tone in some and in others it’s more realistic. I am not sure how to fix that at the moment… I want to lean more towards the abstract, but I don’t want to be SO abstract as to be off-putting.

I feel like the writing process of doing this thesis has been a kind of unraveling in and of itself. I started with one lofty idea and I just didn’t have the ability to pull it off in the time I set for myself. This memoir was birthed not totally out of desperation (though there is some of that) but it came from me stopping one day and saying – why are you so obsessed with trauma informed care? This led me to a journey of self-exploration and introspection. I decided I wanted to share my story to highlight something I don’t think is talked about much – how lacking the tools people are given in positions of care can be and how this impacts both them and the people they care for. My hope for this story is to capture something that people recognize in their own struggle to care and that they know it isn’t just them. My hope is that through this recognition they can seek the “proper tools of care”, whatever those may be. I don’t know if those hopes are too lofty, but at least I’m moving in a direction now.

A Fast in the Face of Abundance

I have decide to fall back into the practices of my childhood faith and start a ‘fast’. My attention span, motivation, and productivity continue to suffer due to the easy access of temporary relief and distraction found in my phone and social media. The temptation is too great, and so I am ‘plucking out my eye’ to avoid the hellish nightmare of failing to get done what I need to accomplish. My plan is to stay off Instagram and Twitter and YouTube (which are the only platforms I use) and to limit my news scrolling and use of my phone by turning it off for long stretches of the day until December 1st. The hope is that by doing this I will emerge out of this month of abundance with a harvest of ideas and completed work that I can truly be thankful for.

The essay I am including below is an updated ‘proposal’ of sorts for my thesis. In very simplistic terms, it captures what I am trying to get at with the storified memoir of care I am writing.


Care is one of those interesting concepts that we all think we understand, that we all have experience with, and yet that we don’t fully know how to explain or define. Theories of care often contend with questions like what responsibility do we have to each other? Who should be responsible for the care of those who are dependent? How do we maintain our self-care? Are there proper ways to care? Are there proper emotions of care?

In the view of philosophers like Virginia Held, care has to be both a “value” and a “practice”; in other words, we must be caring in our actions but also in our motivation. Virginia Held explains this further in The Ethics of Care: Personal, Political, and Global:

“A caring person, in my view, will not only have the intention to care and the disposition to care effectively but will participate in caring relations. If persons lack the capacity to do so, they can be persons who are trying to be caring, but they are not yet caring persons. To be a caring person requires more than the right motives or dispositions. It requires the ability to engage in the practice of care, and the exercise of this ability. Care, as we saw, is work as well as [an] emotion or motive or intention. The caring person participates in this work in ways that roughly meet its standards. Care is not only work, however. So it is not enough that the work get done and the child get fed if done without an appropriately caring motive. But, in my view, having caring motives is not enough to make one a caring person.“ (p.51)

These individuals with caring “dispositions” are the very ones that want to use it and are drawn to careers and institutions that are traditionally linked with offering care: Doctors, teachers, counselors, case workers, firemen, police, military personnel, lawyers – these ‘caring’ roles are usually associated with people who are ready to serve those that are dependent on their care. But what happens in these roles when there isn’t the “practice” of care? What would be defined as a practice and what is a motivation or disposition?

A relevant real life example is that of the call to defund the police. There are many who would argue that because of the historical origins of the police force being born out of wealthy white individuals wanting protection from Black individuals that policing has never been about care; that said, those within the profession would argue that their role is to care. So the motivation to care is there for these individuals – in their case ‘protect’ and uphold the law – but are the ways they care actually achieving the goal of care? Those in the BLM community and who adhere to an abolitionist ideology give a resounding NO to this question.

The goal of this thesis project isn’t to address the complex questions brought up by care in policing, but it is to address the related issue of what it means when there is a lack of proper tools/practices of care. The lens through which I approach this is from my time in mental health and my role as a peer support specialist and a supported education specialist. Though I will explore the issue of practices of care in general, I will pay special attention to the specific practice that is termed trauma informed care and the subtype proposed by Alex Shevrin Venet called Equity-Centered Trauma Informed Care.

Through a storified memoir format, I will explore care from a care provider’s perspective and from the perspective of those being provided care. The aim of this project is to highlight the implications of a failure to wrestle with ideas of what care is and how it should be gone about; it is to seek insight into what is meant by ‘proper tools of care’ and how these can be implemented to protect carers from vicarious trauma and burn out and from carees from being further harmed (retraumatized, one could even say) by ‘improper’ care.

Theorizing Care: How My New Bestie Helped Me Find a Way Forward

“To sum up, research can be triggered by a problem, by something interesting, and by something surprising. Regardless of what sets off the research, however, it is important to emphasize three things. First, the initial phase of observation should be carried out in a very free-ranging manner. Second, theorizing should be held off for a while. And third, the topic to study is not necessarily what you initially set out to analyze, but what after a while strikes you as being the most promising to pursue.”

– from The Art of Social Theory by Richard Swedberg

“Why are you obsessed with trauma informed care?” I asked myself, trying to get at the heart of this term. 

“Why are you so obsessed with trauma informed care?” I quietly mused, suddenly realizing the weight of THAT word and the way it related to me.

“Why… you are obsessed with trauma informed care!” I discovered, realizing that THIS word – so vague and all encompassing – was at the heart of the matter.

What I discovered was a) Swedberg’s model for understanding the process of “theorizing” and b) that this whole time I have *actually* been chasing that tiny little word “care”:

What IS care supposed to look like?

Why do I even need a model like trauma informed care?

My ‘hypothesis’ is that there is a failure to care that needs to be patched up, but is trauma informed care really the ticket?

Breaking down something like “care” is a tall order, and if I’m not careful I’ll run into the same issue I’m having now of a topic that is way too big. Thankfully, I feel like I already have step one done which is the creation of some terms that get at the heart of the issue of a failure to care (i.e. illusions of care – fantastical, self(ish), and callous) and utilizing the existing term Equity-Centered Trauma Informed Care as my “ideal type” to stack things up against. A digression is warranted to explain the word “ideal type”.

As my new bestie Rich says: 

 “An ideal type has a number of practical functions, and one of these is to provide terminological clarity and precision. Since reality is endlessly rich and contradictory, it is of importance that the ideal type is clear and coherent…[it also functions as] a “heuristic tool,” and this means that it should primarily be used to discover new aspects of a phenomenon… when you begin to study a complex phenomenon, it is very useful to have an ideal type at your disposal. Once you have reached the point where you know in which direction to look… focus on the significant differences (if any) between the ideal type and empirical reality, and to try to account for these. At this stage the initial ideal type has fulfilled its function and can be discarded.”

– from The Art of Social Theory by Richard Swedberg

Trauma Informed Care, and the special restructuring of the term that Alex Shevrin Venet created with her Equity-Centered Trauma Informed Care, is the “ideal type” I’m using to speculate about “care.” The aim of this speculation is to begin pointing towards a theory of understanding care that can meet the needs of our modern, ‘post’-pandemic society. I will be doing this speculating and theorizing through my memoir of care by detailing my experience of working in an institution of care as well as my experience as a human who claims to “care”. This detailing will be done in the ways I have already described, by using fictional case study, personal experience, and probably some form of academic explanation.

Concerns/Questions/Problems I’m left with:

  1. I’m drawing inspiration from a social science approach to theorizing. It takes a more quantitative approach in some ways, but I feel that this fits my background and, actually, Swedberg is a pretty flexible guy in terms of the process of research. He is literally advocating for what he calls “creative theorizing” so… what better term is there then that for what I’m attempting here.
  2. The whole second half of Swedberg’s book has to do with needing to understand social theory to create theory. I am drawing strongly from CRT – would that count I wonder? Do I need to concern myself with that if I’m not really planning on making my thesis theory, but more a process of theorizing?
  3. This idea of “care” probably still seems too big. I don’t know how to address that critique at the moment, but I am hoping through the process of writing my memoir pieces that I will be able to show what I am envisioning in a more concrete way. I have some pieces now that I have written, but nothing that is a definitive way to begin this whole thing. Still looking for my way in.
  4. I am still planning on incorporating The Night of the Iguana and some religious themes. This could turn out to be too tangential; but Swedberg says that books, movies, and literature of all sorts can be used in the observation and learning phase of theorizing. The Night of the Iguana encompasses for me the spirit of care I am trying to get at – I just have to make it make sense. Maybe I should do a blog about that next week or something… possibly a bonus blog if I can make the effort and time?

Works Cited

Swedberg, R. (2015). The art of social theory (3rd ed.). Princeton University Press.

Where do we go from here?

As the title of my blog suggests, this thesis process is stressful. Maybe it would be weird if it wasn’t. It seems that most things in life that are ‘rights of passage’ are supposed to cause us sleepless nights and trepidation. That said, I have spent a lot of the summer in a state of tension over what my exact project is and what I want to get out of this final piece of my graduate work.

During the writing retreat over the summer, the direction that unfolded was that I would create fictional case studies to pair with an academic proposal that financial aid (FA) policy and practice in higher education needs to incorporate an equity centered trauma informed approach to better serve students. Up to that point, I was researching whether there was already something like that in place while also trying to record all the things I remembered from my time as a supported education specialist that were problematic in FA. 

Out of the research I did this summer, I collected a very broad and generalized collection of resources. What I am lacking is a deeper dive into all that has been done research-wise at the intersections of equity, trauma, and financial aid in higher education. Though there is so much missing from what I need to know about this topic, what all my theory is, and who my authorities are, I do have a foundation of articles, theories, and resources that have been informing my understanding:

  1. Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021
    • Many of the issues that FA professionals have been advocating around were addressed in the most recent appropriations act. Some of these issues include simplifying the FAFSA form, removing the requirement that men have to sign up for selective service to access federal aid, removing the requirement to report drug convictions in order to access federal aid, and opening pell grants up to incarcerated students. This one functions as a primary resource for my research. 
  2. Creating Cultures of Trauma-Informed Care (CCTIC): A Self-Assessment and Planning Protocol” – Roger D. Fallot, Ph.D. and Maxine Harris, Ph.D.
    • This document from behavioral health organization Community Connections offers a break down of trauma informed care and a model of implementing trauma informed care on an institutional level. It serves as a model of what it can look like to implement trauma informed care on an institutional level and the importance of having buy in from all parts of an organization. 
  3. Critical Race Theory: An Introduction – Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic
    • An accessible break down of CRT by some of the original creators of the theory, this primer describes what the basic tenets of CRT, its application in law, and how it has changed over time. This resource serves as another foundational piece of theory and has shaped my thinking around structures and the way that policy can be racist in its creation and implementation. An understanding of the way that policy and structures can impact people in ways that are inequitable is vital to creating change in FA policy.
  4. Equity-Centered Trauma Informed Education – Alex Shevrin Venet
    • Shevrin Venet’s work on trauma has been significant to helping me form an understanding of how equity and trauma informed care need to be combined. Most of my theory is drawn from the model she lays out in this book about applying equity-center trauma informed practice in secondary schooling. My intention is to take what she discusses and extend it to post-secondary schooling and to FA specifically.
  5. Evocative Autoethnography: Writing Lives and Telling Stories – Arthur Bochner and Carolyn Ellis
    • A text from some of the lead scholars in autoethnography, this both describes and demonstrates how to use autoethnography and narrative to present research. Because this comes close to capturing the process of fictional case studies, and I am contemplating using some of my own experience to describe issues in FA policy, this resource serves as a great resource and model for my methodology. 
  6. “Family Violence and Financial Aid: A trauma-informed policy analysis of financial aid’s responsiveness to students experiencing violence in the home” – Kyra Laughlin 
    • A thesis from a student who attended the University of Washington, this study addressed the issue of certain FA policies that require showing proof of hardship to access federal aid. Laughlin’s study follows the line of thought that I am pursuing in my work around directly applying trauma informed principles to FA. She uses SAMHSA’s original tenets of trauma informed care. 
  7. “Implicit Bias Toolkit” – NASFAA
    • Another tool from the NASFAA organization, this offers a model for financial aid administrators to develop more equitable practices in their implementation and judgements of financial aid. This model was one of the closest things I’ve found so far to an equity centered trauma informed approach to FA.
  8. NASFAA Website
    • As stated in their description, this organization is the “…only national, nonprofit association with a primary focus on information dissemination, professional development, and legislative and regulatory analysis related to federal student aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965…” NASFAA has been invaluable as a resource to help me understand the issues that are important in FA policy, how to interpret the changes in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and to get a feel for the direction policy is going in.
  9. Student Debt Crisis Center
    • This organization is a hub for those with student debt to share their stories and to advocate for policies that meet student needs. It offers a ton of first account stories of student loan debt and is useful to draw inspiration from for my fictionalized case studies.
    • A dissertation from a student who attended Western Illinois University, her paper discusses the need for trauma informed care in higher education in general and the many factors that impact a student’s success. Her discussion of trauma informed care needing to be incorporated on an institutional level, history of the development of trauma informed principles, and her methodology for analyzing policy make this an important resource to refer to and draw inspiration from. 

These are just a smattering of some of the most important resources I have from my research over the summer. I have all of these sources and more stored in a Google Sheets file that is completely chaotic and a disaster as far as organization goes. I’ve done some sifting, but I still need to go through and organize (or simply make another sheet that will be more organized). 

As far as the outline of my work, it isn’t so much that I don’t have a vision of how to outline this work, the problem is I don’t know how to present it. What form am I putting my ideas in (fiction, personal narrative, academic analysis) and what am I trying to say? I know that the fictional case study is the form proposed, but I am trying to figure out what to add to this. Do I use my own story of how I came to a vision of trauma informed education? Do I write a policy I believe fits my vision? Do I make it all an autoethnographic narrative that mixes fact and fiction and don’t worry about a traditional ‘academic paper’ to go along with it all?

Not sure. So that it what I need to solidify ASAP so I can get to work. But for now a bare bones outline of my *thoughts* with some suggestions of form is as follows: