Mavrode Educational Services

Putting Families First

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Over these many years I have come to learn how amazingly surprising God can be when dealing with His children.

I am the pastor of a small Hispanic congregation of the United Methodist Church.  As small as we are, we are blessed to be rich in ministry.  On the third Saturday of each month men of our community come together for a Menudo breakfast.  By the way, according to Wikipedia, Menudo, also known as pancita or mole de panza, is a traditional Mexican soup, made with cow’s stomach in broth with a red chili pepper base. It shares a name with a stew from the Philippines made with pork and pork liver. Hominy, lime, onions, and oregano are used to season the broth.    Now, if that doesn’t make you want to visit your local Mexican restaurant, I don’t know what does.  But on with my story…

I really wasn’t supposed to go to the breakfast this Saturday since I had a surgical procedure done on me the day before and wasn’t really feeling up to it, but I went anyway.  As it turned out, the guest speaker bailed out at the last minute and our church elder looked at me and well I became the guest speaker.  The first order of business was for me to pray because I had no idea what I was going to speak (preach) about.  Early that morning I got up as I usually try to do and went into God’s word.  I read a passage out of the First Epistle of Peter and the words spoke to me of how precious we truly are in God’s sight.  That even though we’ve been through and are going through trials now, because of the genuineness of our faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, we may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:7.

Considered precious, tested by fire, found to praise honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…all of this and more seemed to be more than enough to speak about.  So the men came, gave thanks for their meal and had fellowship.  All the while I was prayerfully thinking about this scripture passage in the context of The Xena Project.  I shared these thoughts with the men, and as I did, the majority of them nodded their  heads in agreement and gave their amens to God’s voice clearly being projected to their hearts.  I didn’t fully realize until I was done that the majority of the men served in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  They were all brothers and God brought all of us together in the fullness of time.  But there was a young man there who was a Marine who was home doing hometown recruiter duty.  I’m sure the stories he heard from us old war dogs impressed him and we had a brief, but good visit afterwards.  I thought about how he was a reflection of our past and the hope for a better future.

Of course, God has done this kind of thing before.  During our Monday morning bread ministry when the poor of our community come to our church to receive food, I was giving the morning devotional and couldn’t help speaking about my own testimony and struggle with PTSD.  At the conclusion of my sermon, a woman stood up and with tears described how pained she was because her son returned home from war changed.  She didn’t know what to do except pray hard for His help in was certainly a desperate situation for her.  But it wasn’t just her, but another mother stood up with her and then another.  All shared in a bond of sorrow and pain and they all also shared in the hope that God would grant a mighty miracle to enter into their and their children’s lives.

I  learned long ago that when these wonderful blessings take place it’s just God doing His mighty works among His people, turning tears into joy, fear into boldness, weakness into strength.  And the most marvelous thing about it all, it has nothing to do with our timing but His – in the fullness of His time.  Amen?

 

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Today I received an e-mail from Representative Rick Miller asking me to join him and others to provide testimony for the integration of Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) into Texas Child Protective Services trauma-bases instruction. Unfortunately, because of work commitments, I will not be able to attend.

As a TBRI Practitioner and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, TBRI has been a vital part of my practice in providing training and ultimately recovery to families broken by addictions and parental separations caused by long periods of incarcerations. I use TBRI in couples therapy, helping parents understand how they can not only help their children through their trauma, but also bring mindfulness to the couples understanding early trauma that may have contributed to their addictive and abusive/neglectful behavior.

It is my opinion that if we do not work with caregivers who have unresolved trauma issues, the cycle of abuse and neglect will continue. It is unfortunate that the only relief has been drugs and alcohol which our society and our children are paying a terrible price for a lack of proven interventions such as TBRI. Perhaps this will all change after this House Bill passes. Here is the text of the Bill which proposes key changes to informed trauma-based training.

Bill Text: TX HB2335 | 2017-2018 | 85th Legislature | IntroducedTexas House Bill 2335
TX State Legislature page for HB2335

Bill Title: Relating to requiring training in trauma-based care for certain child-care workers and child protective services caseworkers.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2017-03-27 – Scheduled for public hearing on . . . [HB2335 Detail]

Download: Texas-2017-HB2335-Introduced.html
85R8662 MM-D

By: Miller H.B. No. 2335

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT relating to requiring training in trauma-based care for certain child-care workers and child protective services caseworkers.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Subchapter B, Chapter 40, Human Resources Code, is amended by adding Section 40.036 to read as follows:
Sec. 40.036. TRAUMA-BASED CARE TRAINING REQUIREMENT FOR
CASEWORKERS. The department shall ensure that each child protective services caseworker who interacts with children on a daily basis receives training in trauma-based care.
SECTION 2. Section 42.0421, Human Resources Code, is amended by adding Subsection (e-1) to read as follows:
(e-1) In addition to other training required by this
section, the executive commissioner by rule shall require an owner, operator, or employee of a day-care center, group day-care home, registered family home, general residential operation, foster group home, or agency foster group home to receive training in trauma-based care.

SECTION 3. This Act takes effect September 1, 2017.

 

All of us at one time or another find ourselves at life’s crossroads.  These moments in our journey can be difficult, full of challenges, and unpredictable.  Our decisions on which direction we should take is often based on past experience – lessons learned, failures and successes.  It sometimes just takes a gut feeling on what path would lead us to a better outcome.

But what about people whose life experience has been distorted by violence, repeated – gut-wrenching disappointment, and unresolved pain that seemingly can only be coped with not by the promise of hope found in a nurtured, well-adjusted life but in brokenness.

As a therapist, I work with people who stand daily at life’s crossroads with life experiences that are full of pain which lead to taking paths that are self-destructive.  The people I am speaking of are men and women who as children came from hard places.  The path they have taken at the crossroads of their lives often leads to self-destruction through drug addiction.  After all, what coping measures do they have that would bring them the hope and nurturing all human beings need to live and thrive?

Alpha Recovery Centre (Please double click on the link to visit Alpha Recovery Centre) has served West Texas communities since 2006, providing substance abuse and mental health services to individuals and families.  In addition to serving the Midland, Odessa, Big Spring communities and their surrounding rural communities, we provide aftercare to individuals who are currently in both the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Federal Bureau of Prisons Substance Abuse Recovery Programs.  I have been given the privilege to work with parolees of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  I am discovering that the majority of my clients have come from some very hard places and never had a chance to experience the loving and nurturing care all human beings desire and need to thrive.  When they came to the many crossroads in their lives, they chose paths that only temporarily numbed the unresolved pain of their violent childhoods, but sooner than later only brought them down further into a deeper and darker abyss that time after time grows more difficult to climb out of.

Recently, I was invited via web conferencing to dialogue with members of the Texas Christian University Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development concerning the use of Trust-Based Relational Intervention as part of our work with parolees and their families in what we call a Therapeutic Community setting.

In my presentation Utilizing Trust-Based Relational Intervention (T.B.R.I.) Principles in Helping Promote Behavioral Modification Among Texas Department of Criminal Justice Offenders  (please double click on the link to review and download this presentation) I drew behavioral comparisons of the traditional child populations TBRI has found great success in reshaping lives and TDCJ parolees who are under our therapeutic care.  What I am finding in my implementation of TBRI empowering principles to the TDCJ population is that their ability to gain mindfulness of their childhood trauma is foundational to their recovery.  This, and the integration of TBRI methodologies in redirecting and/or re-framing behaviors from negative to positive is helping bridge the gap of healthy nurturing care deprived during their early years.

We employ nurturing groups, known as Process Groups in the Therapeutic Community, to work as a family to solve issues that surround addictive behaviors.  In-line with TBRI practices, the clients work together to problem-solve whatever issues are being brought to the table during these group sessions.

Individual therapy is vital to helping the client identify the deep trauma that drives their addiction and daily ability to function in their immediate environment and in larger society.  Oftentimes the hopelessness of not being able to get a job or have a family is projected to a “rap sheet” that scars them for life.  The use of TBRI empowering principles helps clients come to know that they are not defined by their past, rather they are defining themselves for the healthy qualities they live every day outside of the penal system.

It was agreed that we would take up to a year of research to measure the success of using TBRI in helping our parolee population through therapy.

Trust-Based Relational Intervention as it is employed at Alpha Recovery Center helps our clients understand their inherit self-worth and puts in-place hope for a future that is not limited or worse yet, stifled by the past.

Please share with me your thoughts.

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Sometimes I get an idea and when I have one of these moments of enlightenment it’s the result of something that I personally experienced or something that is one way or another tied to a verse or verses of scripture.

While on a Walk to Emmaus weekend, a dear sister in Christ came to me and asked if I would have any interest in spending a weekend serving as a member of clergy for a Kairos Prison Ministry weekend.  I said sure (I have a real tendency, so I have been told by my wife, that I really have a problem saying no).  Now, I have never been to a prison before so as the days began to speed by, my anxiety started to bump up quite a few notches.  To make a long story short, that weekend was one of the most incredible Spirit-filled weekends of my life.  I won’t go into the details about what Kairos Prison Ministries are all about.  I will just provide this link and you can read about it at your leisure Kairos Prison Ministry

It was not long after that amazing experience that I learned about Dr. Karyn Purvis of the Texas Christian University Institute of Child Development and her Trust Based Relational Intervention program.  If you want to know more about Trust Based Relational Intervention or TBRI®, then check it out by clicking on this hyperlink What is Trust-Based Relational Intervention?

I read The Connected Child which was authored by Drs. Karyn Purvis and David Cross, attended an Empowered to Connect Conference, and began to use the TBRI principles as a Foster/Adoptive Home Development caseworker while I was employed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (CPS).   Well, the impact TBRI had on my foster to adopt families was remarkable.  Children placed in their home began to respond to the interventions and behaviors began to change for the positive.

I left CPS to pursue a practice as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor on a contractual basis.  In this practice I will work with parolees who are under the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Substance Abuse Counseling Program (SACP).  SACP was designed to reduce the recidivism rate of offenders who use alcohol or drugs while on parole supervision, have a history of drug and/or alcohol use, or who request assistance  with drug and/or alcohol related issues during their parole.  For more information, visit Substance Abuse Treatment Program

It occurred to me that the majority of parolees had suffered all kinds of trauma during their childhood.  These were adults who never were given the opportunity to give voice to their pain when they were children which resulted in behaviors directly linked to those maladaptive experiences.  So it only seemed logical to use TBRI principles in my practice.

I found that where TBRI was most effective was in group work.

To get a better understanding of how TBRI can work in these settings, listen and watch Judge Darlene Byrne talk about how TBRI has helped foster parents and their children who come from hard places.

I have been offered the opportunity to have research done on the use of TBRI in programs like SACP.  I just have a feeling this idea will catch fire and just maybe, it might make a positive difference.

Like so many children who are traumatized by child abuse, Sara will carry with her many of the effects of her abuse throughout her life.

Given what you saw in this video:

  • What challenging behaviors would you expect Sara to express?
  • What messages do you believe are behind these behaviors?

Given your response to these two questions, we’ll explore how TBRI can help work with this child who has come from a very hard place.

 

 

img_0659But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.  2 Thessalonians 2:13

I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I used to have a tendency to look at the world and the human experience not through the lens of Paul in his letter to the Church in Thesslonika.  His words were edifying and full of hope.  The lens I once saw the world through could only be seen as a place of inconsolable mourning.

But in this God-breathed passage of scripture we are given a different view of the world – a different reality full of sweetness and delight.  Even though we know that we are surrounded by darkness, we have been chosen to be the firstfruits called to make a difference in the lives of our children and their caregivers because we responded to a call.  If we are a peculiar people, then it is because we have been given the truth that no child is bad or irredeemable.   Rather, we have come to know that with the right amount of nurturing and compassion and skill, any child has potential.  And for that matter, the same holds true for adults.

I am grateful to have been chosen for this labor that glorifies God.  I am grateful that I was given the remarkable opportunity to be part of a powerful God-given ministry that inspired the life of Karyn Purvis, and I am grateful to be part of the firstfruits of God’s grace, mercy, and peace.

Ειρήνη του Θεού να είναι μαζί σας;

God’s peace be with you!

 

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Hawley, is about sixteen miles north of Abilene, Texas and is populated by 640 souls.  Yet because of its close proximity to its large neighboring big brother, this small American town is facing big town challenges.  The population of foster children in Region 2 where both Abilene and Hawley are located has grown astronomically. Part of this growth could be attributed to the downturn of the oil industry.  However, the area also houses two of Texas largest detention units; the Middleton and Robinson Units which have increased the number of families in crisis in the area.

Additionally, the ratio of children removed and placed into conservatorship and the number of foster families willing and able to take them in is highly disproportional on the negative side.  There just isn’t enough beds for these children and often sibling groups must be separated.

To face the challenge, the Hawley Independent School District will introduce its teachers, school counselors, school social workers and caregivers to Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) as a proactive move to help meet the needs of their children who have come from hard places.  There will be six hour-long sessions.  Additionally a closed membership chat group will be opened to provide participants the opportunity to continue discussions on how they can implement TBRI in their schools.

I believe many of you who are reading this blog will agree that we have a crisis that is placing more and more people into the criminal justice system.  It would also be difficult to argue that with the deterioration of the family, our caregivers  are in great need of parenting skills and our educators should serve as an adjunct of what is taught at home.  Currently, there is a dearth of parent training which has led to the climbing rate of abuse and neglect resulting in children removed and placed into the foster care system.  Added to the problem is the omnipresent proliferation of drugs.

I believe the answer to our societal woes are our schools and faith-based organizations.  It is these two institutions where families and children in particular can be in a safe place for growth and development.  This is why I am so grateful that Hawley ISD and Davis Elementary School in Carrollton, Texas have taken the initiative to bring TBRI into their classrooms.

Call me an optimist, but having been a Child Protective Services Caseworker, and having worked with offenders in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice detention Units – I have personally witnessed some great movement to the positive that just does not get reported.  So wherever you are my fellow TBRI Practitioners, know that you will definitely be part of the solution to what seems to be an interminable crisis.

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