Trauma Informed Global Resilience (TIGR) seminar series

CIE in collaboration with the Educator Preparation Office of the College of Education is sponsoring a biweekly series of virtual seminars and workshops focusing on trauma exposure and recovery in crisis and conflict education settings. The main aim is to bear witness to children and families in a diversity of trauma exposure contexts and to inform education and intervention for healing and recovery. 


Exploring a Global Abuse Prevention Mindset.  The inaugural TIGR seminar on April 2, 2021 was led by Dr. Laurie Matthew, OBE who is the founder of 18u a non-profit organization providing confidential services for sexually abused young people. She has 25 years’ experience of developing and delivering abuse prevention programs in schools and communities.


Her presentation discussed The Violence is Preventable’ program that makes use of provocative statements, such as ‘it’s ok to hit a woman’ to enable children to share and explore their views on what is and what is not abuse.  Dr Matthew emphasized the importance of communicative behaviors in delivering abuse prevention programs involving open body language, warm tones, and validating and affirming verbal response for children.


She said “Classes need to be ‘energized’ with movement, more akin to the playground context to enable children to spontaneously share with each other, and the class.” Teachers need to be open to receiving disclosures during the lessons, most of which are one-liners such as “that happened to my mum and it’s not ok” that open the door for support for children.




Laurie’s also research raises serious questions about the impact of mandatory reporting, indicating that what survivors want is confidentiality, choice, and control over who to tell, what to share, and the timing of what action is taken. “Survivors tell their stories over time, the initial disclosure is just the tip of the iceberg.”


Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity & Empathy (PACE).  Dr. Susan Darker-Smith led a workshop for the second TIGR event on April 16, 2021.  Dr. Darker-Smith is a European Accredited EMDR Child & Adolescent Trainer and Founding Trustee for the Global Child-EMDR Alliance. She also sits on the international Council of Scholars established to develop EMDR research and Practice.  She has over 20 years’ experience working with complex child trauma presentations.


Dr Darker-Smith emphasized that “the right to be heard is a universal right regardless of culture, religion, race, sexual orientation or identity. Too often children report feeling unseen, unheard, devalued, and unwanted which leads to long-term significant mental health implications into adulthood.” Trauma in early childhood can lead to disrupted attachment, cognitive delays and impaired emotional regulation.


She emphasized that “any experience that disturbs the development of secure attachment at a time of heightened dependence will lead to impaired development of neural pathways that sub serve emotional behaviors, which in turn lead to emotional dysregulation throughout the course of life. Early trauma leads to internalizing behaviors such as withdrawal, depression and self-blame.”


In this presentation, the speaker explained how the use of PACE, pioneered by Dr. Daniel Hughes, builds attachments and resilience in students though open and transparent communication.


  • Playfulness is about creating an atmosphere of lightness when you communicate with a child (lightness of voice like story telling).

  • Acceptance is the process of actively communicating unconditionally, that we accept a child’s wishes, feelings, thought, and distress etc. that are underneath the observed behavior.

  • Curiosity is about wondering without judgement about the meaning of the child’s behavior.

  • Empathy involves the adult showing that they are concerned for child’s inner experience and feelings, including through the hard times.


Future Seminars. For information on future seminars and workshops in this series during the spring 2021 semester see the CIE/UMass Facebook page. [4-21]