Addressing Gun Violence Trauma

A $15,000 grant from MB Financial Bank

August 23, 2017

A $15,000 grant from MB Financial Bank has empowered Adler Community Health Services to develop a Crisis Response Team.

The Adler Crisis Response Team will support people impacted by gun violence by helping them process the trauma and develop resiliency. The Adler Crisis Response Team will also provide the foundation for training student-clinicians, faculty clinicians, teachers, school staff, and community members in crisis response.

ACHS, Adler University’s clinical training program, places student-clinicians in schools and community organizations serving Chicago’s underserved, and in many of Chicago’s most challenged neighborhoods. Since the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year in August, ACHS has been asked to provide crisis response services to support middle and high school students, their families, teachers, school staff, and their communities after multiple incidents of gun violence.

“Gun violence disrupting families, schools, and communities is significant – and rising – in the communities that ACHS services” said Kevin Osten-Garner, Psy.D., Executive Director of ACHS. “Many of Chicago’s youngest residents face the possibility of violence and death every day. Crisis and trauma are part of the fabric of their lives. They often feel that the very institutions that exist to support and protect them have, instead, let them down. In working in these communities, Adler’s student-clinicians and faculty see firsthand the erosion of hope and a pervasive sense of helplessness. Under these circumstances, focusing on school work and planning for life after graduation is challenging, at best.”

ACHS has responded to this violence by providing standard crisis services, such as offering trauma-informed therapy in drop-in clinics. Yet recent experience shows that the people in these communities need more support. To this end, ACHS is developing Adler Crisis Response Team by:

  • Hiring experts to design and train the Adler team in best practices for crisis services, including post-crisis debriefing for the responding clinicians
  • Expanding the number of clinicians available to respond to crises by recruiting, training and compensating Adler faculty clinicians not currently involved with ACHS programs
  • Actively involving community partners in designing the training and providing the services to assure that services are culturally competent and appropriate
  • Establishing protocols for crisis response in the communities ACHS serves, assuring that evidence-based best practices are used consistently by student-clinicians, Adler clinicians, teachers and school staff, and community members

ACHS student-clinicians served the underserved, including those living in poverty, those impacted by violence and trauma, incarcerated/formerly incarcerated people and their families, communities of color, the homeless, and other populations. ACHS provides much-needed behavioral health services on-site in schools, community organizations, clinics, and other service locations.