The Integration of Anti-Racism into Trauma-Informed Care Training: A Process and Discoveries

The Traumatic Stress Institute of Klingberg Family Centers (TSI) offers a highly effective transformation method towards trauma-informed care. We provide a two-year whole system change process. TSI currently serves eighty agencies in many sectors internationally. Our foundational training is a three-day Risking Connections Basic Training which introduces staff to trauma-informed care. As the societal awareness of the prevalence of racism grew, we realized that we needed to enhance our incorporation of social justice issues.

How to do this was not obvious. We offer a full three-day curriculum. We needed to include more emphasis on racial and multi-generational trauma, but what could we take out to make room? We work with agencies of differing knowledge, response to social issues, education, and expectations. We were not offering anti-racism 101. What was uniquely important to include in trauma training? Our agencies serve many marginalized communities. How much should we include on all the various issues? As we began to make these changes, both we and our clients were (and still are) dealing with the COVID crisis, staffing shortages and other problems.

TSI has done considerable work over the past two years to promote an anti-racist approach to healing trauma. This included provision of training including with Dr. Kenneth Hardy, and including racism and inequities in our training. We chose to create an Advisory Committee of our Risking Connection trainers and Champions, inviting participants who were familiar with the curriculum, brought expertise in social justice issues, and had lived experience. We paid our members for their time. Developing safety and trust was necessary to ensure that honest discussions could take place. To accomplish this, committee co-chairs designed reflective questions which were sent out in advance to provide committee participants time to reflect on their responses. The reflective questions (some of which will be included in this presentation) were designed to promote a deeper understanding of each committee members experience with racism, build trust, and inform their recommendations. We needed had discussions, exercises and explorations with the group to create a community and a culture that encouraged people to speak freely.

In addition to the Advisory Committee we also solicited feedback from Risking Connection trainers in other forums. In these arenas we received more excellent thoughts, and began to discover the fear and anxiety that trainers can feel when asked to teach these topics. People felt inadequate, were concerned about possible human resources issues, suggested bringing in experts, and were uncertain how these discussions would be received in their agency. This informed ort final product.

From these various activities, we developed changes for our curriculum in the areas of:
• Trainer introductions and group guidelines
• ACEs
• The adaptive function of symptoms
• Attachment
• Brain and body
• Self-worth
• Frame and boundaries
• Crisis management
• Our reactions to clients
• Vicarious Trauma and self-care

We introduced this tool to our community through a Webinar. Much appreciation and some apprehension was expressed. We have begun to pilot the changes, and have encouraged our trainers to share feedback about its use. We expect continuous development and revision.

Revising the basic Risking Connections curriculum is only the beginning. As part of our Whole system change model we also include a Train-the-Trainer, work with and agency Advisory Committee, continuing training and consultation, and data collection. We plan to examine how each of these also needs to evolve. We have also begun offering training in specific areas, such as Social Justice Issues in Supervision.

Beginning our journey to improve our attention to social justice issues within our trauma-informed transformation process has been exciting and moving. We look forward to the next steps in this evolution.


Patricia D. Wilcox, MSW, LCSW

Vice President for Strategic Development , Klingberg Family Centers


Alesia Starks

Practitioner Faculty , Fuller Theological Seminary