Each month, we plan to interview a Foundation team or board member about his/her role and involvement in ACEs. We hope you enjoy this peak behind the curtain into what inspires us to keep going!
Ebony’s work includes discussing cases and brainstorming programming ideas to reach more families. A licensed therapist, she also stays up-to-date on the latest research and trainings that will benefit and deepen our understanding of trauma. Learn more about Ebony’s role at the Foundation and the impact she sees in the community.
How Did You First Get Involved With The Foundation?
I have always been attracted to listening to people’s stories and curious about how they process their world so I went to graduate school and became a professional counselor. I found a position with the Knowledge Quest UPP that overlapped with a number of trainings I took about how trauma lives in the body and impacts your brain, specifically your neuropathways. So I really saw the link between what I was studying and what I was seeing our clinicians do at the UPPs, including by helping parents shift their understanding of discipline and family interaction. After 11 months as the licensed clinical supervisor, I became the clinical coordinator. This coincided with the incredible expansion of our UPP sites from two to the five in operation today. I feel like we work at a start-up, but it’s great because we are all learning and solving problems together.
How Would You Describe Your Role?
I consult our UPP clinicians on a weekly and monthly basis to make sure things are running smoothly and they are supported in whatever way they need. During these check-ins, we discuss cases, as well as programming ideas to bring more families in the Memphis area into the sites. It is important that people in the community understand what the UPPs offer and how transformative they can be.
Ultimately, my goal is to make the sites cohesive while also respecting each site’s independence. Each of our clinicians does a fantastic job of drawing from personal experience to create programming that they know will resonate with their community. I really enjoy watching all these great ideas come to fruition!
What Is A Typical Day Like?
I spend a lot of time traveling and meeting with our clinicians. I also organize ongoing trainings for staff. For example, we recently did a workshop coordinated by the University of Tennessee Center of Excellence for Children in State Custody (UT COE). The training was called Child Adult Relationship Enhancement, or CARE. The clinicians were able to gain new tools to help parents interact with children to improve development and create a sense of security.
What Impact Of This Work Have You Seen In the Community?
I’ve seen individuals who would not normally seek out therapy do so. Therapy can still be so taboo for people. I’ve seen mothers take advantage of mindfulness practices, such as yoga, and hear how it has made them feel less stressed and recognize their own strength. The coping skills they learn at UPPs have really enhanced the way they think about the world and helped them along their healing journey. And it has created a ripple effect. For example, one woman invited her friend to come to a yoga class. That may seem small, but that yoga practice will help those mothers reduce stress who will in turn help their children become more resilient. It’s empowering to witness.
What Has Been Your Favorite Part Of The Job?
I love when we bring in national experts like Dr. Bruce Perry and Dr. Sandra Bloom to talk to the community and share their research and experiences. There’s so much to learn and incorporate into what we do. For example, Perry’s research showing how humans are social creatures who get better in groups is something that’s really driven how we approach the UPP sites.
I’m also excited to be a part of a movement that’s about a shift in consciousness when it comes to trauma and stress. We’re starting to recognize it as a public health issue, particularly with children. We’re seeing how they are impacted by stress but also how they can be resilient. I’m thankful to be part of this national conversation.