Trauma Training Program helps students understand trauma, build a community of empathy

The Trauma Training Program offered by the Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience at UCCS offers two flexible online courses to understand your own traumatic experiences, and those of others. Photo credit:
Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash.

Our modern lexicon is peppered with famous adages about overcoming difficulty. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is so universally accepted that it’s not just a pop song, but a Fortune 500 business strategy. Yet, according to resilience research, it’s simply untrue.

Research from the Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience at UCCS shows that trauma has a powerful ability to shape an individual’s decisions, for better or for worse. It can even alter a person’s path in life — especially if the trauma was experienced in childhood. And trauma is so prevalent that professionals and students work with individuals who have experienced trauma every day.

That’s why the Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience has developed a new online program designed to teach a foundational understanding of the symptoms, impact and treatment of trauma in schools and the workplace: the Trauma Training Program.

The program consists of two eight-week courses delivered online through videos, articles, media and informed discussions. To keep the curriculum flexible and accessible, there are no scheduled meeting times. Instead, students move through the material at their own pace and share their thoughts and reflections in weekly discussions.

Students who have completed the course include military veterans, victims’ advocates, police officers, teachers, healthcare workers and both graduate and undergraduate students at UCCS from a variety of fields. The goal of the program is to teach students how to apply their training to real-life scenarios in which they work with individuals who have experienced trauma. (And yes: surviving a pandemic counts as a traumatic experience.)

“I designed this class to give students a basic foundation on what trauma and traumatic stress is, what it does to us in the body and mind, how it impacts our development, and what kinds of help are possible,” said Nicole Weis, Director of Community Training and Empowerment at the Institute.

“I think the beauty of this class is the discussions,” Weis continued. “Almost everyone on this earth has been brushed by trauma or stress in some form or another. The feedback I have received is that the class helps participants to broaden and deepen their understanding of their own stressful experiences, and extend that understanding to others. More than anything, it builds upon a community of empathy and understanding for those impacted by trauma.”

That’s certainly true for Crayton Daniel, Social Media Specialist for University Communications and Media Relations at UCCS. Daniel completed the course as part of his studies in the Department of Psychology.

“This course has been more than just a training course for me. Not only has it opened my eyes to the severity and prevalence of trauma and trauma related symptoms, it reaffirmed my passion for helping people suffering from mental illness,” Daniel said.

“I feel equipped with the knowledge and resources needed to begin to change the way mental health, trauma and PTSD are viewed in our society. Because of the course, I am a better advocate for mental health.”

After all, what doesn’t kill us doesn’t always make us stronger. But learning how to navigate those experiences — past, present and future — just might.

The Trauma Training Program is designed to have both professional and personal applications. Professionals working in clinical, emergency response, education and legal fields are especially encouraged to participate, along with any individuals who would like to better understand their own stressful and traumatic experiences. Students receive a certificate of completion upon conclusion of both the Trauma Training Program I and II courses.

To learn more and register for upcoming trainings, visit the Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience website.