Leadership Group Addresses Texas Agency’s Seclusion and Restraint Reduction Training Needs
September 1, 2007
In response to the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission's (TJPC) request for advanced training in the reduction of seclusion and restraint, a panel of trainers from the Seclusion and Restraint Reduction Leadership Group presented at the 11th Annual Drill Instructor Institute on July 17 in Austin.
The training was part of TJPC's efforts to reduce seclusion and restraint (S/R) use throughout Texas juvenile justice programs, including boot camps, Juvenile Justice Alternative Educational Programs, detention facilities, and day treatment programs.
Founded by the Hogg Foundation earlier this year, the Seclusion and Restraint Reduction Leadership Group comprises mental health consumers, family members, advocates, and representatives of private and public agencies whose mission is to move Texas forward in reducing seclusion and restraint use.
The Leadership Group's training panel consisted of Ann Thomas of Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department, Valarie Garza of Texas Health Institute, Pat Foster of Caring Family Network, Jerry Fulford of North Texas State Hospital, and Michael Martinez of Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department.
To highlight the crucial role of understanding past trauma in reducing S/R use, Dr. Thomas discussed how common behavioral and emotional responses to trauma may appear as non-compliance and aggression. Thomas also showed a taped interview of a youth in a juvenile facility to illustrate how individuals who have past experiences of abuse can actually be re-traumatized with painful memories by watching others being restrained. Children in the juvenile justice population are much more likely to have experienced trauma or present with post-traumatic stress disorder than other children.
Garza emphasized that S/R use is not only traumatizing, but can also create a dependence on external controls to manage one's behavior and emotions. As a result, children can lose the ability to control their own behavior, something she has seen happen with her son who has a mental illness.
"These practices taught my son that he did not have to be responsible for controlling his behavior because someone would always do it for him," said Ms. Garza, drawing on her son's multiple seclusion and restraint experiences in various juvenile settings. Garza explained that since her son never developed effective self-control skills, he is now dependent on external control as an adult in the criminal justice system.
Ms. Foster, Mr. Fulford, and Mr. Martinez discussed their organizations' S/R reduction efforts and provided participants with practical tools to take back to their programs that will help them reduce S/R use and increase staff's awareness of how past trauma affects the current functioning of the youth they serve. Training materials and presentations are available on the Hogg Foundation's website at: www.hogg.utexas.edu/ programs_S&R.html
Training is one of many ways the Seclusion and Restraint Reduction Leadership Group serves as a resource in Texas. With its strong commitment to improving treatment practices for consumers of mental health services, the Leadership Group welcomes opportunities to support agencies that are committed to reducing seclusion and restraint use in their facilities and programs.