Educational Series ACE “Adverse Childhood Experience” interventions in the school setting

Grassroots Community Organization efforts to bring “Trauma Informed and Capable Care” to  Hawaii schools using Everett Rogers “Diffusion of an Innovation Model”


In the fall of 2012 The Green Will Conservancy weekly Professional Community  interagency peer review group, which included DOE employees, voted on a long term grass roots community organization project to bring “Trauma Informed and Capable Care” information to the DOE starting w/ East Hawaii Schools.  

Over the first year we initially fundraised, attracted the international expertise of Dr. Roger Solomon PhD (EMDR Institute)  and through Video Conference, Kathleen Martin LCSW (EMDRIA) to train 3 School Based Behavioral Health Specilists (SBBH) in EMDR  (Eye Movement and Desensitazation) and in treating more Complex Trauma with an Ego-State Therapy approach. Along with a coterie of other community based mental health practitioners from many agencies and private practice our first International EMDR Trauma Training Conference was held on Hawaii Island.

During that period we developed a comprehensive live power point video presentation “From Trauma Informed to Trauma Capable Care ”  in conjunction w/ Annettta Lucero. This was presented at the IVAT conference in 2013-14. The program has been presented to the public and to multiple Hawaii Island Agencies, including the DOE. The presentation continues to be a centerpiece for educating “Trauma Informed and Capable Care” and is being distributed  via the World Wide Web.

Trauma Care Conferences IVAT

At that time EMDR was considered a level 5  “non-best practice” therapy by DOE/DOH (Based on 2006 Research) Blue Code Designations. Green Will Professional Peer Group members lobbied the developer of the “Blue List” to review more recent research and subsequently EMDR has been upgraded to a level 2 “best practice” destination in Hawaii DOE/DOH mental health guidelines for trauma related conditions.

The DOE Staff who attended the first EMDR training persuaded their supervisors also to train in EMDR and Ego-State Treatment and over the next 3 years and ultimately over  20 E. Hawaii DOE (SBBH) School Based Behavioral Health Specilisits, including 4 of their Psychologist/LCSW  supervisors have been trained in Level One and Level Two EMDR for treatment of simple trauma and for complex trauma based conditions w/ Ego State Therapy techniques. This was funded by grass roots efforts via The Green Will Conservancy, formal DOE Continuing Education budget, The County of Hawaii Human Service Grant (thanks to support of Representative Greggor Ilagan and the County Council) and by many other local Agencies through continuing education funding of their clinical staffing and the direct investment of local private mental health practitioners. Currently we have trained over 50 Islandwide clinicians trained in advanced trauma based practice.

The Green Will Conservancy has also provided direct school based consultation to Mt. View and Pahoa ILC (Intensive Learning Center) and Hamakua Elementary Schools (K-3). The consultations have been very well received over the last few years. The Hamakua schools have adopted trauma informed classroom stratigies through their PSAP Programs (Primary School Adjustment Programs) w/ very positive ongoing review from teachers, administration and parents.

Status: Progress toward actual implementation of EMDR/ Ego State Treatment in East Hawaii Schools has been slow and or stalled based on consistent informal  survey of 15 participant SBBH,s report:

“unclear mandate” and/or ” sanction” for actual use of trauma treatments in the schools. They attribute this to previous, now retired members of the East Hawaii Senior School Administration philosophy ” No Trauma Treatment in School”, believing somehow that this would be to cumbersome, create potentially  disregulated students and therefore classroom environments. Of course, research demonstrates the facts are quite the opposite in actual case situations. 

Question: Increased reported violence in Pahoa High and Intermediate Schools?

(Note: The East Hawaii Community (Pahoa)  is still  surviving a volcanic and weather related natural disaster and there is an increase in reported school violence and community trauma. Other psycho-social- trauma risk demographics remain the highest in the State)

Is their a link between untreated environmental and social trauma and school violence?

Trauma and link to ACE and High Risk Behaviors

The world class EMDR and Ego State trainings have sparked a very, very enthusiastic interest, developed remarkable skills in Behavioral Health Professionals that are now being practiced in the community agencies and private practices. We now have much more trauma informed awareness in our schools, actual school based practice of trauma treatment is still reported as minimal.

( Note: There is an ongoing national mandate for trauma informed schools)

This conundrum has sparked a renewed effort on the part of the “Green Will Organizers” to expand our “Early Adopter Base” of “Trauma Informed and Capable Care” knowledge, exposure and expertise to teachers, classroom aides, parents and administrators in order to attract an “Early Majority” of adopters. We are hopeful that any remaining resistance w/ be resolved so School Based Providers can fully use their training/skills on campus in providing direct trauma care along with prevention interventions.

We will adjust our language and change the word “Trauma” to ” Adverse Childhood  Experience”  in all the school based training material we produce in order to reduce any unintended pathologising of our Learning Content.

We will focus exclusively on the “THREE R’s”

Resourcing: The Student/family/teacher in  “Engagement/attachment” stratigies. Regulation: Training Teachers, Support Staff, Student, Parents and Administrators in helping and undstanding regulation difficulties/ stratifies for children of ACE or (Adverse Childhood Experience), distinguish this group from those who evidence ” Willful Misconduct ” and thirdly, Resiliency: Address (ACE) focused strategies for children of Envoronmental Disruption, Divorce/Seperation and/or Foster Care.

The Green Will Organizers are continuing to use Community Organization Model promoting a next series of educational material being co-developed on campus w/teachers to reach-target teachers, administrators, educational assistants, and including parents.  We hope for further early adoption of “Trauma Informed and Capable Care” intervention in Hawaii schools. We will continue to support this international movement in Health Education and Welfare  via the World Wide Web over the next few years.

In 2019 the Department of Education contracted Green Will  and Dr. Roger Solomon of the EMDR Institute to train approximately 25 more school-based behavioral health personnel and psychologist in Level one and Level two standard protocol EMDR. Frank Capatch Certified EMDR Consultant worked with these personnel in adjusting the standard protocol to the school-based protocol as presented by The Green Will Conservancy professional community consultation group. Green Will continues to provided ongoing consultation to the DOE staff as needed as part of that training as of 2020. The Covid emergency is re-organizing how school-based behavioral health services will be used and adjusting to online parameters. Green Will consultation continues to be available to help Department of Education therapeutic personnel to adjust and streamline EMDR to meet the emerging needs of our local Hawaii community in educational settings.

Green Will Conservancy interns and clinical residents from the school of social work Manoa Hawaii, are currently in the process of writing an article defining an adaptation of the standard protocol as a School Base EMDR Protocol and hopes to submit for publishing by the end of the year 2021.