Char-Koosta News

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Child and Youth Trauma Services program helps people resolve traumatic experiences

By Lailani Upham
Char-Koosta News

Clarence Gingras, MSW, case manager spends much of his day as a mentor to folks who come in seeking guidance and help. The CYTS program is located in the second brown CSKT TSSD building behind Dairy Queen in Ronan. (Lailani Upham photo) Clarence Gingras, MSW, case manager spends much of his day as a mentor to folks who come in seeking guidance and help. The CYTS program is located in the second brown CSKT TSSD building behind Dairy Queen in Ronan. (Lailani Upham photo)

RONAN — Severe trauma can leave a person feeling helpless and emotionally out of control; however, minor trauma can be debilitating as a victim struggles with upsetting emotions, memories and anxieties that can lead to a feeling of disconnection and at times unable to trust others.

Because it can take time to get over the trauma-caused pain and feel safe again, getting support is essential but it is not always easy for the traumatic individual to reach out for help. However, they must. Whether the trauma happened years ago or yesterday, a mentor can help a person heal the emotional wounds and get them back to a normal life.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Social Services Child and Youth Trauma Services Program can help with a variety of services from case management to one-on-one counseling to support groups for individuals and families facing setbacks from traumatic experiences.

“We help them come up with a plan,” said Clarence Gingras, MSW, CYTS case manager. “Many times there’s a road block they have to get around, like getting their license back; or no clue on how to get housing.” Gingras said a person might be displaced for some time and never knew how to find a home and/or find work.

 According to the American Psychological Association, trauma is an emotional answer to witnessing or being a part of terrible events like a severe accident; violent acts like rape, domestic abuse or child abuse; and natural disaster. Traumatic events can negatively affect a person’s life and shadow them well into adulthood. After a tragic event, people often experience shock then denial followed by unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. While these feelings are typical, some folks have difficulty moving on with nearly anything in their lives.

The CYTS team recognizes people of all ages can experience different types of trauma; they are trained to respond to variations of people and traumas with understanding and confidentiality.

Gingras’ job is more than giving pep talks — he connects people to the resources that can assist in resolving each unique situation. Besides guiding them to the right resources, he often transports them to the resource. If the clients don’t have a vehicle, he said, “I just haul them around where they need to go.”

CYTS builds clients up with skills and support until they can return to normal lives. Their philosophy is about being non-judgmental and refraining from using critical language. Staying neutral and objective can help a person open up and overcome the effects of trauma.

“After a while they aren’t afraid anymore,” said Gingras. “And they don’t have to be ashamed. We are here to help; that’s what we are here for.”

Free Trauma Services Trainings are offered monthly to service providers and teachers that want to gain a better understanding in trauma informed skills and working with children and families.

 Upcoming training, “Understanding and Supporting Students Impacted by Trauma” will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Mission Valley Power. It is presented by The National Native Children’s Trauma Center.

“We hope for the next five years people around the community use the program and see it as a resource because we don’t know if we will have it after the five years,” said Dana Morales, CYTS mental health therapist.

The CYTS office is located behind Dairy Queen in Ronan in the second brown CSKT TSSD building in Ronan.

CYTS is a five-year grant funded from the Department of Human Services Substance Abuse Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) grant under the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative.

For more information contact Roberta Asencio at (406) 675-2700, ext. 6100.
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