NIHB National Tribal Public Health Summit
Community Focused Healing: Southcentral Foundation’s Family Wellness Warriors Program
Learning and Development Training Specialist
Learning and Development Training Associate
The impact of trauma on physical, mental, and emotional health can be significant and far-reaching, and today, Native people are leading the way in bringing healing to their families and communities. Southcentral Foundation, an Alaska Native customer-owned health care system, has established a community- and peer-driven model that uses the power of story to break the silence of trauma. This program is Family Wellness Warriors (FWW). 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 works to heal this trauma to prevent its transmission. This session will cover the specific techniques utilized and symptoms addressed, with a look at how this evidence-based intervention for complex trauma differs because it is Alaska Native-led, emphasizes culture and spirituality, and uses peer leaders and modeling rather than clinical hierarchy. The session will also detail the positive impact FWW’s trainings have had on participants; for example, a propensity-matched retrospective cohort study conducted in 2018 comparing post-training health care utilization changes for 90 FWW participants to health care utilization changes for a 90 person comparison group, found that after adjustment for covariates, FWW participants showed a 55 percent reduction in Emergency Department visits and a 79 percent reduction in substance use visits.