As the role of trauma and traumatic stress in the origination of mental health challenges has become clearer, the question “What’s wrong with you” is being replaced by the more pertinent “What happened to you?” This paradigm shift is intended to provide a more effective pathway to treatment. To this end, Ryther has planned to move the agency under one trauma care model so that we all share a common understanding and language around what trauma is, how it may be expressed and what can be done to mitigate its impact. After researching several models, ARC was chosen by Ryther’s clinical leads as the model that accommodates current evidence-based practices and best fits the work we do at Ryther and the children, youth, young adults and families that we serve.
ARC stands for Attachment, Regulation and Competency. It is “a flexible, components-based intervention developed for children and adolescents who have experienced complex trauma, along with their caregiving systems. ARC’s foundation is built upon four key areas of study: normative childhood development, traumatic stress, attachment, and risk and resilience.”
Studies of ARC Model implementations have produced positive impacts for children similar to those in Ryther’s Cottages:
- Significant reduction in PTSD Symptoms
- Improvement of Child Behavior as measured by the CBCL
- Significant increase in Placement Permanency (from ~40% to 90% in one example)
We will identify outcomes that measure post-traumatic stress symptoms as well as internalizing (e.g. depression, anxiety, etc.) and externalizing symptoms (e.g. aggression, oppositional behaviors, etc.). Measures will be administered within 30 days of intake and again every six months to assess reduction in symptoms and inform discharge planning. We are excited to be able to better quantify successes to our Ryther constituents.
Bringing ARC to Ryther will be a three-year process. We have already begun thanks to a three-year grant from the NW Children’s Fund to implement the model at Ryther. Additionally, Nordstrom and the Nesholm Family Foundation and an anonymous donor have helped fund this effort, as have several individual donors who are supporting the new Frannie Johnson ARC Fund at Ryther.
Dr. Blaustein, one of the creators of ARC, was our trainer in October. Approximately 135 staff as well as the teaching staff at TEC received training. This way, we ensure that we all have a shared understanding of how we will approach and interact with every person coming to the agency seeking help, those who partner with us to do this work and with each other. This is a big lift but one that is very exciting and one that is essential to make our work more effective. To learn more, visit http://arcframework.org/what-is-arc/