About This Program
Target Population: Organizations with professionals and paraprofessionals, and others who work with survivors (children, adolescents, and adults) of traumatic life events, especially those with histories of childhood trauma
Risking Connection® is a foundational trauma training program that grew out of a consumer trauma survivor lawsuit. It is based on constructivist self-development theory (CSDT), an integrative theory drawing on attachment theory, relational psychoanalytic theory, developmental psychopathology, and theory of cognitive schemas. Risking Connection provides a way for organizations and systems to change their culture to one that is trauma-informed and trauma-responsive. It uses a train-the-trainer model of dissemination whereby organizations gain the internal capacity to conduct Risking Connection trainings and sustain a trauma-informed culture.
This model emphasizes:
- A framework for understanding common trauma symptoms
- A common inclusive language
- Relationships as the primary agent of change
- Respect for, and care of, both the client and the service provider (vicarious traumatization) as critical to healing
- Strategies and tools to support adoption of the model in clinical, social, and organizational processes
The goals of Risking Connection® are:
- Train organizations to:
- Utilize the Risking Connection framework to respond to the impact of traumatic life events
- Frame common symptoms and behaviors as adaptations to traumatic life events
- Respond to survivors of traumatic experiences from a strengths-based approach
- Demonstrate collaborative crisis management that reduces the risk of re-traumatization
- Demonstrate increased self-awareness of their reactions to individual clients
- Integrate knowledge of the impact of vicarious traumatization in the formulation of organizational and individual self-care plans
- Create trauma-responsive cultures including policies, processes, and people systems
- Expected organizational outcomes include:
- Knowledge of content and models essential to Risking Connection
- Shift in beliefs favorable to trauma-informed care
- Demonstration of behaviors aligned with trauma-informed care
- Changes in professional quality of life including an increase in compassion satisfaction, decrease in burn out, and a decrease in secondary (or vicarious) traumatic stress
- Responses that reduce the use of restraints and seclusion at organizations
- Decreases in staff turnover, staff injuries from client management, increase in staff satisfaction with job
- Increases in foster parent retention and decrease in foster placement disruptions
The essential components of Risking Connection® include:
- Risking Connection enables organizations to adopt a staff training model that provides foundational training of staff about trauma and trauma-informed care.
- Organizations can include inpatient and outpatient mental health foster care, hospitals, peer recovery programs, after school programs, community outreach, faith communities, residential care, juvenile justice, and therapeutic schools.
- Organizations are supported in implementing the staff training model and trauma-informed care by joining an international community of agencies who are engaged in a similar process.
- After adopting Risking Connection, organizations will have a cadre of highly-trained trainers who can train Risking Connection in an ongoing way at their organization. Most organizations make this a mandated training for their staff.
- Staff at organizations using Risking Connection has a common language, theory, and framework to describe and understand the behavior their trauma survivor clients engage in.
- Staff learns knowledge about psychological trauma and trauma-informed care, develop beliefs and attitudes favorable to trauma-informed care, and change behaviors to implement a trauma-informed culture.
- Staff displays RICH relationships with clients and their peers. RICH relationships are characterized by Respect, Information, Connection, and Hope.
This program is not a client-specific intervention, but a whole system approach that targets the entire organization. The focus is to create a trauma-informed and strengths-based environment in which trauma-specific interventions can be more effectively implemented. There are specific components delivered to adults/foster parents/clients that are derived from or related to the intervention, and they work in concert with the full-system efforts.
This program is meant to be implemented at an organization and kept as a framework that supports the organization as it helps its clients work through their trauma.
This program is typically conducted in a(n):
- Community Agency
- Outpatient Clinic
- Residential Care Facility
This program does not include a homework component.
Resources Needed to Run Program
The typical resources for implementing the program are:
This program is implemented into an existing therapeutic environment that will have individual offices, group rooms, and administrative assistance. The training and adoption of the materials into the overall organization are the additional resources that are needed to run this program.
Education and Training
Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications
Educational requirements vary based on context and setting. In clinical settings, licensed master’s degree clinicians must be present. In nonclinical settings, and nonmental health settings, competency and adoption of the model supersede educational level when staff do not have postsecondary educations.
Perhaps the most critical minimum qualification is the willingness to consider the role of trauma and another way of responding to those who experience it that is inclusive, supportive, and non-pathologizing while offering healing.
Education and Training Resources
There is a manual that describes how to implement this program , and there is training available for this program.
- Elizabeth Power, M.Ed.
Trauma Responsive Care/EPower & Associates, Inc.
- Steven Brown, PsyD
Klingberg Family Centers
Training is obtained:
- Organizations dedicate necessary resources (human and financial) to use Risking Connection as a training model and approach.
- Organizations complete the Risking Connection Basic Training taught by Risking Connection faculty.
- Organizations identify staff to be Risking Connection trainers and they attend the Train-the-Trainer.
- When using Klingberg’s training system, the organization’s credentialed Risking Connection trainers attend two continuing education events per year and get recertified every two years.
- Organizations are expected to institutionalize certain core practices. For example, use reminders about RICH Relationships (based on Respect, Information, Connection, and Hope) and asking “how does the problem behavior help the client in the moment?”
- Organizations complete an implementation plan which covers such things as scope of change, training plan and schedule, and targets for change.
Number of days/hours:
Faculty-Led core Risking Connection Basic Training: 18-20 hours divided into blocks that meet organizational needs regarding staffing and learning needs.
Instructor-Led RICH® Relationships 101: 6 hours
Transformation to Trauma-Informed Care using Risking Connection®: 1-2 years
Faculty-led Train the trainer: Delivered in an agency setting and varies based on context.
It is recommended that organizations have staff complete the Risking Connection Basic Training and Risking Connection Train-the-Trainer within 3 to 6 months of each other. It is also recommended that Risking Connection trainers within an organization train other organizational staff in Risking Connection within a year. It is recommended that organizations maintain a cadre of Risking Connection trainers.
Initial implementation of Risking Connection that includes the Risking Connection Basic Training, Risking Connection Train-the-Trainer, and rollout of training within the organization takes a year to 18 months depending on the size of the organization. Most organizations continue to use Risking Connection as foundational trauma training in an ongoing way.
There currently are additional qualified resources for training:
Sidran Authorized Providers:
- EPower & Associates, Inc:. http://www.traumainformedcare.com/TIC_Resources.html
- Klingberg Family Centers: http://traumaticstressinstitute.org/services/risking-connection-training/
Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research
Brown, S. M., Baker, C. N., & Wilcox, P. (2012). Risking Connection trauma training: A pathway toward trauma-informed care in child congregate care settings. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 4(5), 507-515. doi: 10.1037/a0025269
Type of Study:
Multigroup pretest-posttest study
Number of Participants: 261
- Age — Mean=38.7 years
- Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
- Gender — 174 Females and 83 Males
- Status — Participants were staff at residential treatment agencies for youth with serious emotional and psychiatric problems
Location/Institution: Not specified
(To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study examines the impact of the Risking Connection trauma training on the knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors of staff trainees at child congregate care agencies. Measures utilized were the Risking Connection Curriculum Assessment (RCCA), the Trauma-Informed Belief Measure, and the Staff Behavior in the Milieu. Results showed an increase in knowledge about the core concepts of the Risking Connection training; an increase in beliefs favorable to trauma-informed care; and an increase in self-reported staff behavior favorable to trauma-informed care. In addition, these findings suggest that the Train-the-Trainer model of dissemination central to Risking Connection is effective at increasing beliefs favorable to trauma-informed care. This study is limited due to the lack of a control group, non-randomization of subjects to the different trainings, and a lack of connection to agency or client level outcomes.
Length of postintervention follow-up: None.
Saakvitne, K. W., Gamble, S., Pearlman, L. A., & Tabor Lev, B. (2001). Risking Connection: A training curriculum for working with survivors of childhood abuse. Baltimore, MD: Sidran Press.
Giller, Vermilyea, & Steele (2006). Risking Connection: Helping agencies embrace relational work with trauma survivors. Journal of Trauma Practice, 5, 65-82.
DeHart, D. D. (2006). Collaborative response to crime victims in urban areas: Final evaluation report. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, Center for Child & Family Studies.
- Elizabeth Power, M.Ed.
- Agency/Affiliation: Trauma Informed Response/EPower & Associates, inc.
- Website: www.traumarecoveryconnection.com/trc_riskingconnection.html
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: (615) 714-6389
- Steven Brown, PsyD
- Agency/Affiliation: Klingberg Family Centers
- Website: traumaticstressinstitute.org/services/risking-connection-training
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: (413) 218-3293
Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: June 2015
Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: October 2014
Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: November 2012