Not everyone who suffers a tragic life event can find a healthy means to cope. To them, the world no longer feels safe, and they struggle to get through the day. Individuals that experience trauma and traumatic events often don’t know where to turn for help. In Connecticut and nationally, behavioral health care systems are in the process of incorporating an understanding of trauma into the way in which they deliver behavioral health services. In addition, organizations and systems of care are offering specific services and treatment to address the differences in which men and women may respond to trauma and overwhelming life events.
The Connecticut Women’s Consortium (CWC) began in New Haven in 1990 to improve the health of women and their families by addressing substance abuse and its consequences. They developed a model that grew into Public Act 90-183, the country’s first comprehensive approach to caring for women struggling with substance abuse and their children. Originally known as The Consortium for Substance Abusing Women and Their Children, CWC worked with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to consolidate services throughout the 1990s and in 1998 expanded to serve women statewide. Their focus shifted to broader issues in women’s behavioral health and trauma, and in 2001 they began operating as CWC.
Today CWC is an independent nonprofit organization offering education, advocacy and training for caregivers and service providers in the behavioral health field. The CWC’s mission is “to ensure that the behavioral health system responds to the needs of women and the people and organizations that affect them” through “holistic, trauma-informed and gender-responsive care.” The Consortium’s primary advocacy is in providing trainings to clinicians and caregivers on behavioral health that include trauma-treatment models for reducing anxiety, improving quality of life and providing stability. The Consortium also helps build coalitions of stakeholders that support capacity for improved behavioral health for women. In training clinicians in best practices, the Consortium helps support enhanced service delivery in correctional facilities, halfway houses, transitional housing and homeless outreach agencies.
Aili Arisco, director of Education and Training, came to CWC three years ago following her MSW internship with Correctional Managed Health Care and employment with the Department of Labor STRIDE program that offered a window into understanding the struggles of incarcerated individuals transitioning into communities. Her hope was to find an environment in which she could increase capacity for services and resources for women, especially formally incarcerated individuals. Supervising the production of training catalogs and the consortium’s “Trauma Matters” quarterly newsletters is one of Arisco’s many duties, and, like her other responsibilities, sometimes presents challenges. She found that while her collaborators all had great ideas, they also had different approaches to writing. She knew she needed to find a credible editing company to help them achieve a unified voice, and so turned to DLA Editors & Proofers.
“Many of our clients are in the same shoes as CWC,” said David Lombardino, editor in chief of DLA Editors & Proofers. “They are on the front lines of transforming the lives of the underserved and want to focus as much of their efforts as possible on doing what they do best. Aili and her team are pioneers in healing and edifying communities, and there is no greater privilege than to be able to support them in their work.”
“DLA’s insight is invaluable,” Arisco said. “They save us time and help us ensure the materials we publish are of the highest quality. Our collaborations and meetings are ones in which we can now focus on developing strategies and solutions knowing that DLA will help us refine and translate our ideas into documents and publications that are impactful and effective in helping to create change. We receive great feedback in a timely manner from DLA in a way that is easy to incorporate the changes DLA recommends. Utilizing DLA as a resource has significantly improved clarity in our writing, greater engagement with our audience, and overall a more successful delivery of our services.”