Public Lecture: The Application of Trauma Systems Therapy in Helping Children with Adverse Childhood Experience

Public Lecture: The Application of Trauma Systems Therapy in Helping Children with Adverse Childhood Experience

How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime?

Vincent Felitti, a US doctor, and his team conducted a research on adverse childhood experience (ACE) in 1995. They conducted research on more than 17,000 targets and discovered a strong relationship between ACE and the health of their adulthood. In their research on ACE, negative childhood experiences included:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical negligence
  • Emotional negligence
  • Violence between parents
  • Parents with mental illnesses
  • Parents with drug addiction or imprisonment
  • Parents being separated or divorced

Among the research targets in 1995 (the majority being middle class white-collar workers with college degrees), almost 2/3 of them have had one or more ACEs, with 1/8 of them having an ACE score of greater than four. In this research, the greater the ACE score, the more likely it is to develop physical and mental illnesses during adulthood. ACE is closely related to a variety of physical and mental problems in adulthood, such as alcoholism, obesity, insomnia, depression, suicidal tendency, sexually transmitted diseases, heart diseases etc.


When I first joined the trauma team at the hospital and began doing psychiatric counseling, I knew I was going to work with young patients with a variety of childhood traumas. So I was prepared to put in a lot of time and patience in the trauma therapy process. However, I was still shocked by the many different kinds of cases that I encountered.

This has made me realize the uniqueness of trauma therapy for minors. Since minors aren’t independent enough, there tends to be uncontrollable factors that may come up during the counseling process. So it is necessary to take their surrounding environment into consideration. Some of the traumas that these children have experienced include poverty (yes, the most recent research report has proven that growing up in extreme poverty is a kind of chronic trauma); either parent or both parents with drug addiction, serious mental illnesses, are imprisoned for crime or have passed away so there’s nobody to look after the child; the child having experienced physical or sexual abuse etc.

The majority of these families required financial assistance from the government. Some of the children were still living with their immediate families, but some of them were temporarily allocated to foster families by the US Child Protective Services because their parents have temporarily lost their right of custody. Statistics have shown that more than 600,000 children were placed into temporary foster families in 2016. This figure usually remains at more than 500,000 every year.

In conclusion, children with ACEs will often continue to live in an unstable or traumatic environment.

Therefore, a lot of unexpected situations came up during my counseling sessions with children and their families. For example, parents would suddenly cancel our appointment because they had to work to earn a living; there might be more than one child in a foster family so the foster parents didn’t have an available time or place to meet with me because they already had too many appointments; the parents or relatives might still be involved in a custody lawsuit so we couldn’t progress with the therapy until the child’s placement was certain; sometimes I’d have no choice but to reduce the number of my visits due to the child’s area being quite an unsafe neighborhood etc.

Trauma Systems Therapy involves a number of effective components from Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) such as offering psychological education to the child and his family, stress relief and relaxation exercises, emotional management, self-recognition exercises etc. It also takes the minor’s surrounding environment into consideration. This includes helping the minor change his living environment, establishing family bonding, establishing a safe environment, communicating and working with the minor’s social-ecological model (school, doctors, child protective services, courts etc.), promoting the minor’s rights, assisting with mental illness medication etc.

In China, a lot of children are experiencing living, medical and schooling difficulty due to poverty. There are children with physical disabilities which have led to recovery, care, nursing and social difficulty. There are also children whose safety is being threatened or violated due to a lack of or inappropriate custody whereby they are being abused, abandoned, hurt in accidents, illegally treated etc. Although a lot of children can still survive amidst such adverse environments, many reports have shown that such adverse environments will cause lifelong damage to their physical and mental health in their adulthood. Trauma Systems Therapy (TST) may suggest new concepts for social workers and psychiatrists and help them assist and support these children with problems.

Dawning Public Lecture


The Application of Trauma Systems Therapy

in Helping Children with Problems

Beijing Time: Saturday 11 August

21:00 – 22:30

Speaker: Yumin Tan

Main Contents:

  1. Trauma Systems Therapy
  • Definition of trauma systems therapy
  • Definition, contents and application of social-ecological model in trauma therapy
  1. Procedures of Trauma Systems Therapy
  • Preliminary assessment
  • Treatment plan of trauma systems therapy
  • Preliminary preparation
  • Introduction of different phases and components
  • Introduction of treatment methods

How to Register for the Public Lecture

Step 1: Share this open lecture notice on your Moments and screenshot it from your Profile page. Scan the QR code below and add “Dao Ning Open Lecture Assistant” to your Friends list, then send the screenshot photo that you took in Step 1 to “Dao Ning Open Lecture Assistant”.

Step 2:After “Dao Ning Open Lecture Assistant” receives your photo, it will add you to its Friends list and invite you to the “Open Lecture” WeChat group, meaning that your registration has been successful. Registration Deadline: 18:00 one day prior to the lecture. (Registrations will be processed at 18:00 each day, your patience is appreciated should you didn’t get invited into the chat group immediately)

Step 3: Access to the open lecture will be announced in the WeChat group three days prior to the date of the lecture.


Assessing Your Leadership Ability – Brown University MBTI Workshop

Assessing Your Leadership Ability – Brown University MBTI Workshop

Recently it has been my honor to be one of the speakers at the promotion of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) project that is jointly hosted by the state government and Brown University.

As part of the project, I hosted a workshop relating to leadership ability and style. The workshop mainly used the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to test and assess these young leaders’ leadership ability and styles. MBTI is a character assessment theory that was developed based on a Swiss psychiatrist, Jung’s theory of psychological types. Approximately 3.5 million people participate in the MBTI assessment annually. 80% of the top 500 financial corporations in the world utilize the MBTI assessment for important decisions such as recruitment, the pairing of staff and roles, establishment of teams and departments etc. MBTI can also be used for career planning, social network development and interaction, marriage education, improvement of learning and workplace efficiency etc.

MBTI indicates a personality trend, there is no right or wrong answer because every person has different habits. MBTI suggests that every person would express his personal behavior, skills and attitude based on his own personality type, and every MBTI personality type has its potential as well as shortcomings.

MBTI assesses and describes a person’s personality trend in receiving messages, making decisions and perceiving life in four dimensions. These four dimensions are:

How we get energized:Extraversion (E) – Introversion (I)

How we take in information:        Sensing (S) – Intuition (N)

How we make decisions:Thinking (T) – Feeling (F)

How fast we make decisions:Judging (J) – Perceiving (P)

mbti brown university personality mental health asian student international student

None of these personality results are better or worse, our society needs different types of talents. The important point is to understand one’s direction of development and make a wise career plan, improve learning and workplace efficiency and improve interaction with others. Similarly, a corporation can only design the appropriate encouragement mechanism, establish the ideal team to fulfill its needs and improve interaction between different departments if it has a full understanding of its staff.

Pin It on Pinterest