Trauma Informed Care

Domestic violence, child sexual abuse, and child neglect are devastating problems in many communities. Southcentral Foundation employes a multidisciplinary approach to supporting those impacted by trauma, including but not limited to behavioral health services, primary care, and the Family Wellness Warriors (FWW) program. Studies done after FWW’s programs have shown positive outcomes for participants in both health care utilization and health outcomes.

Ready to get started?

This page is for organizations seeking consultation on trauma-informed care services. If you are a customer-owner who needs support, please visit:

Learn about our approach

FWW addresses traumatic experiences as the root cause of family violence and builds on cultural strengths. Trauma survivors often develop behaviors that disrupt family life and affect the next generation; FWW heals this trauma to prevent its transmission. FWW’s evidence-based intervention for complex trauma differs because it is Alaska Native created and led, is culturally and spirituality rooted, and uses peer leaders and modeling rather than clinical hierarchy.

FWW offers a number of different training programs designed to heal trauma and support those impacted by violence. These trainings include Arrigah House, a culturally-connected training intensive that explores the impact of our stories, including adverse childhood experiences and intergenerational trauma; Soldier’s Heart, a peer led training intensive designed by and for those with service-related trauma to process the effects of post-traumatic stress and gain tools for healthy living; and Advanced Leadership Education and Training (ALET), a workshop which trains peer participants to become learning circle facilitators for various training intensives including Arrigah House and Soldier’s Heart Training.

Participants in FWW trainings work in groups to understand their story, the root causes of abuse, and how to stop the cycle. Participants return home after their trainings, many to rural villages off the road system, with skills to create new norms and support the families and communities in which they live.

FWW’s trainings emphasize how healing from the pain and shame of trauma leads to transformative healing; building self-esteem, improving family relationships, making positive life changes, and helping others. Participants gain insights into how past harm, anger, and fear play into their interactions with others, and how the next generation’s behaviors and choices often mirror what they have seen and heard. To help participants in healing, FWW has designed its training and education programs based on the strengths of Alaska Native culture, including:

  • Sharing story. This replicates Alaska Native oral traditions and involves exploring trauma one has experienced in order to heal and develop a more positive sense of self.
  • Listening and responding. This reflects Alaska Native traditions of respectful words, and empowers participants to create a safe environment to help in healing each other.
  • Facilitator preparation. This comes from the Alaska Native tradition of sharing what you learn and learning by doing, and involves presenters and Learning Circle leaders (who have completed FWWI trainings and are often themselves people who have experienced trauma) model the sharing of story and demonstrate listening and responding as full participants.
  • Building healthy relationships. This is key to the healing process and draws on Alaska Native traditions of collaborative activities such as harvesting, food preparation, or dancing.

FWW has found through its trainings that healing from trauma works in stages. First, participants work to heal and understand themselves by sharing their stories. This healing leads to increased self-esteem and self-efficacy, which in turn helps participants build healthy relationships. Finally, they become able to support others, and are able to use their own experiences to support the healing of others.

Implementation in other communities

FWW has found that trainings rooted in Alaska Native culture can not only help individuals heal from trauma, but also build resiliency in communities affected by trauma. FWW’s implementation model has demonstrated successful replication of FWW programs in other communities. In addition to FWW supporting rural communities in Alaska, the program has worked internationally with tribes in culturally adapting and implementing the model. The implementation model is in four phases, as follows:

  1. Engage the community. FWW will not enter any community without an invitation. Once invited, in the first implementation phase, FWW establishes relationships with tribal leadership and works with them to form a Community Based Steering Committee (CBSC) to address community problems. FWW also holds workshops and public forums to engage the community and identify potential stakeholders to lead the process of change.
  2. Create a community development plan. In this phase, FWW works with the CBSC to create a plan for the community to be able to replicate and carry out FWW trainings. As each aspect of the plan is phased in, it is evaluated by the CBSC and modified as necessary based on the needs of the community.
  3. Implementation. During phase three, the CBSC begins to implement the community development plan, and FWW works to engage the community to confront its most serious issues with minimal dependence on others, and to change community behavior in confronting and dealing with family violence and child maltreatment.
  4. Transition and sustain. In phase four, FWW ensures that community leaders have the knowledge and skills to continue the community’s efforts to eliminate family violence and child maltreatment. FWW continues to offer support and consultation as needed.

Evidence Supporting the FWW Approach

Considerable evidence indicates that adverse experiences, such as domestic violence/abuse and other forms of harm, can have lifelong health effects, including higher rates of chronic diseases, medically unexplained symptoms, and unhealthy substance use. Groups experiencing health disparities often have higher rates of exposure to adverse experiences. In recognition that many health disparities are driven by high rates of traumatic experiences, a study was completed on the FWW model’s focus on building health by first healing trauma.

In the study, the hypothesis that participation in FWW can reverse negative health effects of adverse experiences was tested. A propensity-matched retrospective cohort study compared post-training health care utilization changes for 90 FWW participants to health care utilization changes for a 90-person comparison group. All cohort members were Alaskans. FWW participants showed a 55% reduction in emergency department visits (visit count ratio 0.45, 95% CI 0.25-0.83) and a 79% reduction in substance use related visits (visit count ratio 0.21, 95% CI 0.07-0.64).

This study indicates that an indigenous program that helps adults heal from past adverse experiences can significantly reduce emergency department and substance use visits. This suggest a novel approach to public health and to health disparities: improving physical health by helping adults to heal from trauma through the generations.

In addition, FWW evaluations have shown statistically significant results for health outcomes for FWW training participants. Evaluation data has shown significant reductions in unhealthy substance use, trauma symptomology, depression, and anxiety in FWW participants. For example, 67 percent of men and 71 percent of women who attended FWW trainings showed a reduction in depression. One participant said that because of BFA, they would “Stop emotional abuse to my family.”


Reduction in emergency department visits


Reduction in substance use related visits


Of men who attended FWW trainings showed a reduction in depression


Of women who attended FWW trainings showed a reduction in depression

Additional Resources


Blog Post

Addressing the Impact of Social Determinants of Health

Blog Post

Trauma-informed Care: A Community- and Peer-driven Model