Smiles and laughter. When we are hosting a virtual workshop, these are two of our favorite things. When people come back from a breakout room and we can see them smiling and laughing, we know that the people in that breakout room connected in some meaningful way. Just last week, we were finishing up a workshop series focused on tips for implementing a trauma-informed approach with CommuniCare Health Centers. When people came back from their last breakout we heard laughter and saw smiles beaming from the virtual squares. Perhaps not surprisingly–we had just invited them to share a work-related strength that they value about each of the people in their group. And who doesn’t love to hear what other people view as their strengths?

But then something else unexpected (and sort of magical) happened. Right after this workshop, Andi and I had our own conversation naming some of the strengths the other brought to our own team at Origins. I told Andi that she was always willing to dive in and learn something new to get something done. That I appreciated how she always focuses on connection first and speaks from the heart. Andi told me she appreciated my ability to frame a conversation (which made my left-leaning brain happy!). And we have leaned into those strengths even over the past week as we have been sorting out who needs to do what on various projects. Just today, we had a meeting where we had multiple technology-related needs on the spot and I and I turned to Andi, knowing she could pull them off no problem. Recognizing and celebrating one another’s strengths has impacted our organizational culture and made us more connected. Which makes our Origins team stronger. 

One of the things we like to say is that a trauma-informed approach is simple, but not always easy. When we consider the various lists of principles (which we have recently simplified here) and the 4 R’s and where to even begin, it can be overwhelming!  It really comes down to identifying ways we can decrease stress and increase connection.

Since we came together in 2017 to form Origins (read our Origin story here), we have focused on supporting the people who are as passionate about making a difference as we are. After hearing about the ACE Study and its implications on how we understand health and behavior, we both wanted to share this information with as many people as possible. Our first training workshop, which is now The Basics, does just that. Participants over the years have left as inspired and curious for more. Those who experienced what we like to call an “Aha moment” during the training wanted more. We developed The Resilience Champion Workshop Series to support those folkx, people like you, as they translate the concepts into a culture within their own organization or setting. Developing a shared language across an organization helps people talk about what they are experiencing and the workshop series supports the development of a culture of safety and connection. 

Working with people over the years, we know that implementing this approach can sometimes feel overwhelming. With that in mind,we are now offering a new series for those champions looking for simple and concrete ways ways to sprinkle this approach into everyday activities and bring this approach to life. Our Principles in Action Workshop Series allows you to take a tip and apply it to what you are already doing. We were excited to partner with the California Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP) to present these materials at their recent Family Medicine Prism of Practice (POP) in August 2023.

As early adopters of a trauma-informed approach, we are often the first to introduce people to the concepts and we continue to develop products that meet the needs of the movement. This work is still all about connection and smiles for us and we hope to work with you as you continue to navigate your trauma-informed journey.



One of the biggest questions that Andi and I get whenever we talk about a trauma-informed approach is something along the lines of “Ok I get ACEs and toxic stress, but what can I do about it in my organization?” We get it–this approach can seem overwhelming because it is literally a lens through which you see everything. We often say that a trauma-informed approach is less about what you do and more about how you do it. So how in the world do we even begin the work of operationalizing our understanding of the science behind stress, trauma, and resilience?

Many of us who swim in the trauma-informed movement are very familiar with the trauma-informed principles developed by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). These principles serve as a mechanism for translating the key concepts of this approach into meaningful action. Working with organizations over the years, we have found that the most effective way to put the “rubber to the road” so to speak is to focus on simplification and accessibility–because our brains like simple! With that in mind, we have recently come up with our own version of the principles with the hope that they are a helpful resource as you apply this approach in your setting. 

And remember, you don’t have to do this work alone! We will continue to offer you ways to connect with others who are putting this information into practice (join our facebook group here or the alumni group here). We will also be providing new innovative resources and ways to apply these principles in your organization or community through our training workshops (sign up for The Basics here and The Resilience Champion here).  


If you are interested in learning more about how to apply these principles within your organization, Trauma-Informed Tips series offers practical tips for implementing a trauma-informed approach. Using trauma-informed principles as a framework (safety, trust, togetherness, collaboration, agency & belonging) each one-hour workshop in this series focuses on one principle and offers three practical tips to support the application of that principle. Contact us for more information.


Since 2017, Origins has been a leader in the trauma-informed movement, working to support champions who are implementing this work across a range of organizations and sectors. Since that time, the movement has exploded, particularly in California, where the ACEs Aware initiative, led by the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and the Office of the California Surgeon General (CA-OSG) has created even more opportunities for activation and expansion of this work. Through ACEs Aware, Origins has developed a practice paper in collaboration with Eisner Health and has provided Resilience Champion workshop series for both the Community Health Clinics of Los Angeles County (CCALAC), CommuniCare Health Centers, and Yolo County. 

In 2024, we will be continuing to support Resilience Champions who are interested in integrating a trauma-informed approach in their organizations or communities. If you’re a graduate of the Resilience Champion Workshop Series, you can now join the Alumni Group, to connect with and learn from other champions leading this work. If you are just starting your trauma-informed journey, you can join The Basics, our introductory training that helps establish a shared language. If you’re ready to implement this approach in your organization or community or are curious about learning more about how that would look, we invite you to sign up for the Resilience Champion! Anyone who is using (or who wants to use) trauma-informed principles and practices can take a resilience-building approach to lead change can make a difference! We also offer group rates so be sure to email us if your group is interested in joining any of the workshops.

But what does it even mean to be a  Resilience Champion?

I’m often asked the question “What exactly is a trauma-informed approach?” When I’m asked that question, a million terms rush through my brain: The ACE study, intergenerational trauma, compassion, brain architecture, integrated health, Decarte, nutrition, mind-body connection, epigenetics, and resilience. All of these terms start the creation of a word cloud in my mind’s eye. The name itself–”trauma-informed approach”–is received differently by different audiences. Even though I have spent over ten years swimming in both the research and practice of the stuff, explaining it flips my proverbial lid and thrusts me right into my own freeze response.

After some deep breaths, muscle clench-and-relaxes, and a swig of coffee, I have my thinking cap on again and am able to access an answer. At Origins, we define a trauma-informed approach as:

“Trauma-informed is a strengths-based approach to organizational culture that recognizes how stress affects people, promotes tools and practices to increase resilience, and encourages opportunities for safety and connection.

This approach starts with each of us.”

~Origins Training & Consulting, 2023

The concepts behind this approach are simple, but not easy. Over the years, we have worked with people who have concerns about their role within their organization and if they are leader-y enough or if they would know what to do next. To simplify and make our programs accessible to everyone, we developed a series of workshops that help support you in leading this work and are excited to be offering them to all of you!

In The Basics, a 2-hour live online workshop, we invite you and your colleagues to learn the language of the trauma-informed principles and practices so everyone can develop a culture centered on resilience-building together. You will learn more about the impacts of toxic stress on both clients and staff, while deepening your team’s understanding of ACEs, as well as the role of systemic and intergenerational adversity. Finally, you’ll learn more about the concept of resilience, identify how protective factors can help heal the impacts of trauma, and discuss how resilience can be built and sustained within an organization.

But once you have that awareness, what do you do about it? How can you apply these concepts to your setting?

The next step in your journey with Origins is The Resilience Champion Workshop Series. Enroll your action team (who will lead your implementation) in this six-workshop series to help translate and operationalize the key concepts of a trauma-informed approach in your unique organization. Together, you will develop a shared foundation, specific goals, and concrete steps to create and sustain a resilient culture.

Let’s look at one of these Resilience Champions. Jessica Flowers is the founder of A Creative Leap where she offers creative, responsive training approaches ​to support individuals and organizations. She previously served as the Program Director at Free Arts of Arizona, a nonprofit organization in Arizona delivering creative and therapeutic arts programs to children who have faced abuse, neglect and homelessness. Since its inception in 1993, resilience-building has been at the core of Free Arts’ programs and services but they didn’t always use those words. Jessica is a brilliant soul who I unknowingly introduced to ACEs during a training I provided for the community in Arizona. After she learned about ACEs science, she was able to put language to things that Free Arts was already doing and trained as many staff, volunteers, and professional teaching artists as possible on ACEs and the other concepts behind a trauma-informed approach. She explains why this made a difference for them: “For the first time we were speaking the same language as other people in our sector.”  While they had been serving foster youth in the community, that shared language and communication gave them access to, as Jessica puts it, “live within that world and have a focus and a common language and a common goal.”

Jessica Flowers is one of the many Resilience Champions who have taken the language of a trauma-informed approach and applied it to the culture of their organization. No matter where you are at in your journey, you (and your team) can join in this new workshop series that builds off the concepts from The Basics and provides a forum to help you translate those concepts into practical application in your own unique setting. By the end of this course, you will walk away with concrete next steps to begin the process of integrating a trauma-informed and resilience-building approach into your setting. 

We have updated The Resilience Champion Workshop Series and are excited to announce our next cohort starting on January 24, 2024.This 6-week virtual training program includes a weekly interactive workshop, activities to help apply the information, supporting materials, and additional resources for each of the following topics:

Week 1- Setting the Foundation and Defining Your Team

The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the series and establish the foundation for ongoing collaboration. As part of this workshop, we will work with the champion team to reflect on their “why”, create a shared language, and establish a team that includes voices of clients and staff throughout the process.

Week 2- Reflecting on Your Leadership Style

You don’t need a fancy title to be a leader. In this workshop, you will reflect on your leadership style and explore how to bring the principles of a trauma-informed approach to life. As part of this, you will identify your strengths and barriers around connecting, consider how to overcome those barriers, and practice skills to support your role as a resilience champion.

Week 3- Defining Your Values and Vision

The focus of this workshop is on the role of values in building a resilient culture and then using those values as a foundation for building a vision for integrating

Week 4- Exploring Your Strength and Needs

The focus of this workshop is on exploring the strengths and needs of your setting, considering different organizational domains, such as leadership capacity, services, clients, policies and procedures, and physical environment. The goal of this workshop is to identify a process to gather information about strengths, assets, what’s working well, and what your organization might do differently to best support staff and serve clients.

Week 5- Creating an Action Plan

The focus of this workshop is on using the needs identified in the previous workshop to define concrete goals for integrating a trauma-informed approach and supporting sustainable culture change. Participants will then translate those goals into an action plan through the process of brainstorming and prioritizing potential solutions.

Week 6- Capstone and Next Steps

The focus of this final workshop is on reflecting on the process of building a resilient culture and making it a reality. In this capstone workshop, participants will synthesize learnings and identify concrete next steps in the resilience-building journey.


Sharing a language allows for anyone in any sector to become a leader and to expand their reach into spaces that may have been previously inaccessible. In an effort to increase this shared language, The Basics is bundled into The Resilience Champion and is required before starting week one.  By enrolling into The Resilience Champion Workshop Series, you will have access to both courses! You will receive a certificate of completion for both programs! Each week, you will learn skills and application of a trauma-informed approach, have access to peers who are on a similar journey, and receive support from Lori and me throughout the process.

Coming back to Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris’ mission to treat the root cause of so many problems, we can remember her words: “This is treatable. This is beatable. The single most important thing that we need today is the courage to look at this problem in the face and say, ‘this is real, and this is all of us.” 


It was on a chilly Fall day after a long, hot summer in Arizona that I boarded the plane to San Francisco attend the 2016 ACESCONNECTION conference. I think of this day and the day I first learned about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study  as days that I will never forget- days that changed my life. I was (and continue to be) passionate about work in the trauma-informed space.

“Change culture and you change lives. You can also change the course of history. Many well-meaning social activists overlook this essential fact. They focus relentlessly on strategy, but strategy means nothing to our bodies and our lizard brains. When strategy competes with culture, culture wins–every time.”
~Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands No one can dispute Valorie Kondos Field’s record of winning. 


My oldest graduated elementary school yesterday and I will admit that I shed more than a few tears at his end-of-year ceremony as the entire school community literally “clapped out” the sixth grade. Someone told me to make sure I bring my sunglasses and I am grateful for that advice. While elementary school graduation may not be as big of a deal as high school or college, it still felt like a pretty big milestone for him and our family.  I think back to his first day of kindergarten in 2012 . His youngest sister was still in a baby backpack as we walked him half of a block to his first day of school with another toddler in tow. My wife and I spent a lot of time in that classroom–we eagerly volunteered to share a weekly volunteer spot in his class and attended the frequent performances and parties hosted by his amazing teacher. Almost seven years (and two cross-country moves) later, he biked himself to his last day of elementary school and I had to promise to make sure I hung out with the other parents (and not him) at the end-of-year BBQ celebration.

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The recent appointment of Nadine Burke Harris as California’s first Surgeon General represents exciting opportunities for increased leadership and momentum around issues related to ACEs and toxic stress. But you don’t have to be a surgeon general to be a Resilience Champion. Anyone who is using (or who wants to use) trauma-informed principles and practices and to take a resilience-building approach to lead change can make a difference!

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As one year comes to an end, the tradition of creating resolutions for ourselves in the next begins. How do you decide on what goal to work towards? This year, my 2019 resolution is going to come from looking back on 2018. I used the passion planner this year, a combined journal and organizer, so the highs and lows were easy to identify. The highlights include completing my coursework at school, setting clear boundaries with my time, exercising, and cutting back on some not helpful habits like too much wine and too many late nights. These goals give me concrete actions but why do I want to do them? What is my purpose? How do those “whats” fit into my “why”?

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As she describes in her TED Talk from 2015, when Nadine Burke Harris stumbled into the world of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), it made her rethink her entire approach to practicing medicine. After finishing her residency, she went to work for California Pacific Medical Center and together they opened a clinic in Bayview-Hunter’s Point in San Francisco. As she began her work there, she focused on improving many of the traditional health disparity measures for underserved communities. But even though she was hitting her numbers, she noticed that many kids were being referred to her for symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). For many of these kids, she did not feel like she could make a diagnosis of ADHD based on their histories. She felt like she was missing something. The dots connected for her when a colleague shared with her the findings from the original ACE study from the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente that showed strong epidemiological evidence for the link between childhood adversity and health outcomes and behaviors.

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