Letter from SE™ Board Chair, Michele Solloway, SEP, LMT, MPA, PhD

by | Nov 7, 2022 | POINT OF VIEW

Dear Global SE Community,

As we head into the Thanksgiving season here in the US, I am reflecting on all that I am grateful for – my family and friends, the abundance in my life, all the opportunities for growth and life lessons offered by challenges and difficulties that arise, and of course that I found my way to SE and the tools I have learned that help me regulate. I am particularly grateful for the deep friendships that have come from being part of this SE community; the opportunities to be in service to my clients and SEI; for all the hard work Marv, the SEI staff, faculty, assistants, and coordinators put in everyday to grow and improve the organization and spread SE teachings; and for all of you in the community who bring SE more fully into the world.

I want to focus here on one particular effort that is launching this week. Two years ago, SEI created a Department of Public Health Initiatives, headed by Amie Leigh. One of the department’s priorities since its inception has been to design, test, and implement a new training program that prevents and interrupts trauma in high stress situations. I’m so excited to share that the Crisis Safety and Stabilization (CSS) program is now ready for its first students!

Some of you may already be familiar with the SCOPE tool, which provides a set of five SE practices that can be done alone or together, to regulate the nervous system. The SCOPE tool is available in 30 languages and has been widely disseminated as part of the recent efforts of the SE Ukrainian Task Force. SCOPE is one tool inside the much larger CSS training program.

The CSS program is a new, short format training program designed to bring SE concepts and tools to first responders and others involved in disaster relief efforts, improve team safety, and reduce the potential for post-traumatic stress. It’s not an SE training program, but it’s SE adapted to teach responders of all kinds to interrupt and prevent the symptoms of stress, shock, and trauma during a community-wide crisis. There are many students and SEPs in our community that work in high stress situations and will resonate with the CSS material; we also hope to welcome firefighters, EMTs, law enforcement, medical workers, victim advocates, and other professionals who work with populations in crisis into the program.

The curriculum contains six modules, including: 1) Introduction to crisis; 2) The nervous system in crisis; 3) CSS tools (SCOPE and more), including a detailed stabilization sequence; 4) Industry-specific information – how CSS applies to specific professions and situations; 5) Empowerment and peer support; and 6) Where to go from here. It is a fully-scaled, in-depth crisis relief curriculum that offers three levels of training: a 1.5-2 hour introduction (CSS Basics); a 6-8 hour training (CSS First Aid); and a 3-4 day training (CSS Peer Support).  It equips individuals and peer teams with the tools and skills to create structured experiences of stability, safety, and support for themselves and others, even and especially when the stakes are high. This, in turn, improves short- and long-term outcomes for responders, their team, and the community they serve. CSS is a science-backed curriculum developed by a team of SE experts with decades of experience in crisis response and neurophysiology, and we’re so grateful for their hard work bringing it to life!

To date, CSS has been piloted with the Pueblo of Pojoaque in New Mexico, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy in Rural Idaho; the Philadelphia Keystone Crisis Intervention Team; and other groups across the US with excellent preliminary results: 93% of participants surveyed report that the CSS training resources are useful to their profession; 97% reported that the CSS tools will help them handle crisis situations; and participants generally report that CSS deepened their skills and knowledge. 

I hope by now you’re excited to learn more and register for an upcoming training! We’re also seeking facilitators and experienced trainers to help this program grow and meet the community demand for it. Soon registration for the first scheduled trainings will be posted; until then, you can read more about CSS or apply to be a CSS facilitator.

One final note: The SEI CSS team is currently on the ground in Florida with a team of 10-20 people. This is the first time in the history of disaster relief that the state has sponsored a team for mental health and wellness, and SEI is helping to supply the most outstanding practitioners. Our mission there is to serve residents impacted by Hurricane Ian, as well as the responders, so each day our SEPs are going to the base camp as well as canvassing the affected communities.

We are grateful for the hard work of the CSS team and continuous efforts to bring SE more fully into the world in every way we can.

Warm regards,
Michele Solloway, SEP, DBC, LMT/BCMBT, MPA, PhD
Chair, SEI Board of Directors