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Why We Screen Every Student for Childhood Trauma

Why We Screen Every Student for Childhood Trauma

Why We Screen Every Student for Childhood Trauma 2560 1707 se_admin

This year, California’s Surgeon General, Nadine Burke Harris, announced that she wanted to screen every student for Adverse Childhood Experiences and trauma before entering school. Through her career, she recognized that there was a strong association between the adversity and trauma her patients experienced and their school functioning. Residential treatment centers acknowledge that addressing childhood trauma is key to helping students thrive in and out of the classroom.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began a study on youth trauma in the late 1990’s, known as Adverse Childhood Experiences, that specified ten categories of stressful or traumatic childhood events. This study showed that sustained stress caused biochemical changes in the brain and increased the risk of developing physical and mental health issues.

“It could be it shows up in tummy aches. Or it’s impulse control and behavior, and we offer a care plan,” explains Burke Harris. “Instead of reacting harshly and punitively, every educator is trained in recognizing these things. Instead of suspending and expelling or saying, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ we say, ‘What happened to you?'”

Examples of childhood trauma:


  • Being bullied or socially rejected
  • Divorce of parents
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Adoption
  • Abuse
  • Family history of mental illness or substance abuse



Assessment Services

When we acknowledge how traumatic events can lead to seeking unhealthy coping mechanisms, we are better able to address the root issues that teens may be experiencing. As trauma can be difficult to disclose to others and, often, can be difficult for teens to recognize, we conduct comprehensive, ongoing assessments that screen every teen for childhood trauma. This includes catastrophic events, considered Big-T Traumas, and experiences that have impacted their relationships and self-esteem called little-t traumas. While we have specific support groups for teens who have experienced traumatic events, our approach is aligned with trauma-informed care for every student. 

Trauma-Focused Therapy

We believe that a holistic approach is an effective way to help young women truly heal from trauma.  Instead of focusing on one specific “problem” area or issue, we treat the entire person (mind, body, and spirit). It is our belief that cutting-edge and evidence-based therapeutic approaches such as EMDR, neurofeedback, somatic experiencing, Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (TF-EAP), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and gender-specific addictions treatment are essential to your daughter’s healing process.

Solstice East Can Help

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 who are reclaiming their sense of self after experiencing traumatic events, depression, and addictive behaviors. We help young women heal from emotional pain by reintegrating healthy habits into their lives. Students learn to build healthy relationships, cope with emotions, and effectively communicate with others. Through adventure activities and creative expression, we encourage girls to explore their passions and strengths and empower them to make healthy choices.

For more information about how we help girls cope with trauma, call 828-484-9946.