James Madison University

SW Department Furthers Professional Development

By: Dina Manco '16
Posted: May 4, 2016

The Social Work Department continually seeks avenues to enhance the field work opportunities offered by the program. On March 24th, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and CEO of Integration Solutions, Inc. Dr. Allison Sampson-Jackson, facilitated “Trauma Present, Trauma Past” to a group of nearly 50 social work professionals made up of fieldwork instructors and alumni. The luncheon presentation covered the various effects of trauma and how to best meet the needs of clients who have experienced it.

Photo: Presentation

The “Trauma Present, Trauma Past” workshop included four sessions: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE); Overview of Trauma, Attachment, and the Brain; Trauma Screening Tools; and Overview of Phase-Oriented Treatment. Each session of the presentation emphasized the need for professionals to recognize and better understand how trauma such as child abuse/neglect, sexual abuse, and tragic deaths can impact relationships and daily activities for clients. Sampson-Jackson’s states, “I am a trauma survivor myself and wish there had been more professionals at that time that knew how to work with me. I also practiced clinically in the area of social work within Child Welfare, Mental Health Hospitals, and Juvenile Justice … and I [always felt] like I did not have the models and education I needed to work most effectively with them.” She built her knowledge of trauma treatment practices through her Ph.D. dissertation and has continued focusing on this topic by teaching “Trauma Present, Trauma Past” at universities and organizations throughout the U.S.

Sampson-Jackson used interactive activities to demonstrate the skills presented including Dr. Siegel’s Hand Brain Model - a tool used to visualize the neuroanatomy of the brain and trauma’s effect on it. She comments, “I had participants practice elevator speeches where they educated others about what ACEs [are] and why it should matter to others. She adds, “I also had them work with interviewing skills where they can interview people on their resilience as well as their ACEs, and thus, help them develop a strong case plan for building that person’s resilience.”

diagram of ACE pyramid

The Social Work Department, with support from a JMU Advancement Engagement Grant, sponsored Sampson-Jackson’s visit to the university. JMU Lecturer Dorothy Harriman, who helped organize the luncheon, states, “‘Trauma Past Trauma Present’ is relevant because it impacts how we treat and provide services to our clients...Most of our field instructors work with nonprofits so they work a lot with high risk families who have a likelihood of being traumatized or in situations where they have been abused and neglected.”

Photo: Presentation

Sampson-Jackson comments, “We in social work understand the skills needed to teach vulnerable populations about important issues affecting their health. Often those with whom we work are more impacted by ACEs than other groups of persons, which makes it important for us to teach our clients about this public health issues. I think it is critical that all social work students and professionals be educated about this topic and know how to, in a micro ways, educate clients and families about this epidemic and ways to build resilience … and in a macro ways we need to advocate for the resources needed to enhance our clients resilience against this important health risk.”

The “Trauma Present, Trauma Past” workshop highlighted aspects of counseling that may not be as commonly discussed. The SW Department looks forward to holding future continuing education opportunities for professional development as advances are made in treatment practices.