Empowered to Connect

The Empowered to Connect (ETC) simulcast, hosted in various locations in the Huntsville area every year in April, consists of two days packed with techniques, research, and success stories from Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI).

The conference begins with an in-depth look of how trauma affects children’s brains. TBRI focuses on supporting a children to be able to access their “upstairs” brain, or the thinking part of their brain. There are many times that children in foster care can only access their “downstairs” brain, or the part of the brain that makes them fight, flight, or freeze. When operating from the downstairs brain, children’s erratic behavior may look like willful disobedience when it is actually survival behaviors.

Because trauma affects not only the brain but also the biology, beliefs, and body of children, it subsequently impacts the behavior. TBRI address the complexity of behavior through Connecting, Empowering, and Correcting principles. These principles and strategies work together to impact the whole child. The ETC simulcast spends a full two days focusing on these principles and the three pillars of trauma-informed care: felt safety, connection, and self-regulation.

Connecting principles help caregivers meet attachment and regulation needs in children. Because of trauma, children in foster care are often dysregulated and need to “borrow our bodies and brains” (as Amanda Purvis said) to help them stay regulated. A child who is connected and has a secure attachment to their caregiver feels safe to come to that caregiver when feeling out of control.Parents connect with their children using mindfulness strategies and empowering strategies.