The Impact of Generational Trauma and Promising Practices in Multiple Systems of Care

Innovative Conversations Session 3 | The Impact of Generational Trauma and Promising Practices in Multiple Systems of Care
Guests: Kay Connors, LCSW-C, Project Director, is an Instructor of Psychiatry at UMSOM, Program Director of the Taghi Modarressi Center for Infant Study (CIS) and Project Director for the FITT Center since 2007; Laurel Kiser, Ph.D., M.B.A, Principal Investigator and Strengthening Families Coping Resource Team Leader is an Associate Professor in Psychiatry at UMSOM; and Bobbi Beale, PhD, Trauma Informed Care Treatment Trainer/Senior Consultant, Center for Innovative Practices/Begun Center, CWRU

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“What is most refreshing about the FITT Model is that it brings traumatic stress to the front of the recovery challenges and talking about how to stabilize and strengthen the family using strategies and tools that we all have access to, instead of just dealing wth the after-effect of kids behaviors, the post traumatic acting out. This is so much more positive and supportive to the families to talk about what they can do to improve situations instead of just focusing on managing behavior problems.”

– Bobbi Beale

An Overview: The Family Informed Trauma Treatment (FITT) Model
The FITT Model recognizes and aims to address the impact of traumatic events and contextual stressors on every member of the family, on family relationships, and on the family as a whole.

Learn More About the FITT Center

The FITT Model, anchored in family and trauma-informed principles and practices, provides the framework for an ecological family systems approach that strengthens families’ efforts to attain safety and stability as they plot a course to address their unique needs.

Recognizing that families interact with mental health care services at various stages of readiness, the FITT model infuses a trauma-specific family systems approach to assessment, intervention and treatment planning to aid families in accessing to family and trauma-informed treatment.

The FITT Center Model attempts to address the multiple types and levels of stress that families might feel. Families who live in poverty or live in a context where there is lots of trauma that occurs.

“Our goal from the beginning has been to widen the lens of the National Child Traumatic Stress Center to understand the interactive dynamics of stress and trauma within families so that, through understanding the respective and specific ways these dynamic work, we can better customize treatment for better, more sustainable outcomes.” – Laurel Kiser

The FITT Model views all of these stressors as being experienced along with the stress of a trauma, including the stress of the event as well as the secondary stressors that result from experiencing trauma.

These all compound each other and often make family members more vulnerable to traumatic stress disorders, make the family more vulnerable to disruption and fulfilling the primary functions of the family.

FITT looks at the context of this all together, not just the isolated view of the traumatic event itself.

“We are our life experience, we are our relationships. And we are learning more and more the systemic relational nature of trauma and how trauma changes an individual’s biologic, limbic, and nervous systems.” – Kay Connors.


University of Maryland School of Medicine:
Laurel Kiser,
Ph.D., M.B.A, Principal Investigator and Strengthening Families Coping Resource Team Leader is an Associate Professor in Psychiatry at UMSOM. Her career focus has been on the provision and evaluation of treatment for youth living in poverty, victims of trauma, domestic violence, neglect, physical and sexual abuse, with psychiatric and behavior disorders always with a commitment to keeping children at home with their families. She served as the FITT Center Co-Principal Investigator from 2007 to present. She led the FITT team in the development of a conceptual model of complex trauma in families and in construction of the FANS-T. She participated in many NCTSN Committees including the Steering Committee. She developed and piloted SFCR with support from an NIMH K-Award. She receives support from The Krieger Fund for replicating SFCR regionally. Dr. Kiser provides SFCR training locally and nationally and consults with multiple child services systems implementing SFCR. She co-directs the UMMC Child Trauma Clinic and leads Maryland’s workforce development initiatives regarding child trauma. She provides trauma education to the community and to UMSOM staff. She has published articles on childhood trauma, family stress and trauma, family rituals/routines, and outcomes evaluation. She is co-author with Charles Figley of the second edition of Helping Traumatized Families. She co-chairs the ISTSS’ Family Systems Group. Contact Dr. Kiser

Kay Connors, LCSW-C, Project Director, is an Instructor of Psychiatry at UMSOM, Program Director of the Taghi Modarressi Center for Infant Study (CIS) and Project Director for the FITT Center since 2007.  She has 26 years of experience as a clinical social worker working with families experiencing trauma and loss in a variety of settings, including primary care, hospital, emergency departments, residential, private practice, clinic, home, and early childhood and school-based programs. She trains psychiatry fellows, medical students, nursing, psychology and social work interns through the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine’s Early Childhood Mental Health Seminar and the University Of Maryland School Of Social Work’s Trauma Education Connections Initiative.  She directs post graduate training programs in trauma focused, family therapies and early childhood mental health interventions.  She leads mid-Atlantic Child Parent Psychotherapy Learning Collaboratives and the University of Maryland’s Early Childhood Mental Health Certificate Program.    She has extensive expertise in collaborating with community, legal and social service agencies.  She has contributed to the scientific literature and dialogue through publications and trainings in child maltreatment, early childhood mental health and family informed trauma treatment, and is an investigator on several trauma treatment and pediatric mental health research projects.  She is an active member of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and is a national trainer for Child Parent Psychotherapy. Contact Ms. Connors