The Trauma Resource Institute (TRI) was created in October of 2006 in order to bring biological interventions to the global community, based upon current science about the physiological and psychological impact of traumatic and highly stressful experiences. Elaine Miller-Karas, LCSW, is one of the founding directors of the Trauma Resource Institute and now serves as TRI’s Executive Director. She has also been and remains one of the key authors for the Trauma Resiliency Model ® and the Community Resiliency Model®.
In 2001, Elaine Miller-Karas, LCSW met Geneie Everett, PhD through their shared interest in Somatic Experiencing®, a somatic intervention created by Peter Levine, PhD. In 2004, Elaine and Geneie were invited to go to Thailand after the Tsunami of December 26, 2004 and while in Thailand, shared a vision of creating a short-term biological intervention that could be easily accessed and taught to first-responders. Geneie had a background in critical care nursing and Elaine had been a medical social worker.
At the time, Elaine was the Associate Director of Behavioral Sciences at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, the county hospital of San Bernardino County, teaching in the family practice residency program. She had already begun to create a short-term intervention to help the family practice interns and residents who cared for the highly traumatized inner city population of San Bernardino County. Geneie and Elaine co-created Trauma First Aide, a short term intervention, inspired by Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing ®, Jean Ayres’ Sensory Integration Theory, Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing, basic biology and the laws of nature.
In 2006, Elaine Miller-Karas, Geneie Everett and Laurie Leitch conceptualized the idea of starting the Trauma Resource Institute. Laurie Leitch was part of the international team in Thailand with Elaine and Geneie. At the time, Laurie was the Research Director for Peter Levine’s organization although she did not contribute to writing Trauma First Aide.
Elaine’s association with the County of San Bernardino’s mental health system also informed her belief that there was a need for a brief training model because many front-line service providers simply did not have the time or funding to receive other longer models of training in biologically based interventions. Further, in cases of large-scale natural and human made disasters and in rural areas where there is limited access to mental health workers, biological stabilization skills need rapid dissemination to a large population of relief workers who aren’t necessarily trained mental health clinicians.
In January of 2007, Geneie decided to leave TRI and to start Trauma First Aide Associates. Elaine and Laurie went on to become the co-founders and co-directors of the Trauma Resource Institute. Elaine and Laurie began teaching Trauma First Aide together and later through their association, created TRI’s Trauma Resiliency Model (TRM) which was inspired by Trauma First Aide. Elaine, along with a dedicated team (Peggy Rowe Ward, PhD, Jennifer Burton, LMFT, Jan Click, LCSW, Merdice Ellis, LMFT, Karen Banker, LCSW, Price Marshall, LMFT, Martha Parra, LCSW, Mark Dust, PhD Candidate, and Marina Compean, LCSW) taught community members to be trainers in TRI’s Community Resiliency Model Innovation Project, part of the Mental Health Services Act Project funded by the State of California and San Bernardino County (2011-2013).
In May of 2012, TRI’s Board of Directors asked Elaine to take the helm of the Trauma Resource Institute. Laurie Leitch resigned from the Trauma Resource Institute on June 15, 2012 to start a limited partnership with one of her associates. Elaine, Laurie and Geneie had a shared belief that innovation would enhance the healing of trauma in the world. So, although the three have been involved in separate endeavors, they remain involved in bringing forth healing strategies to help our world community.
TRI is experiencing rapid growth as individuals and organizations are hearing about the effectiveness of TRI’s models of intervention. We can now say we are a “research informed” intervention as our State of Calfornia, Mental Health Services Act Innovation’s Project yielded statistically significant reductions in depression and anxiety and reduction in hostility and somatic indicators. Further, independent researchers connected to academic institutions have begun randomized control trials, to further evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions.
TRI’s international trainings have been co-sponsored by the World Health Organization in China, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee in Haiti, Nepal, Turkey, Africa and the Philippines, Starfish One by One in Guatemala, and ADRA International in the Philippines. Individuals have also sponsored our international trainings most recently in South Africa and Rwanda. TRI has a partnership with Loma Linda University and the University of Hamburg, Loma Linda and the University of Hamburg will be leading the next phase of the research with regard to the Community Resiliency Model. In addition, a group of concerned citizens with bring our community model to Belfast, Northern Island in 2017.
Domestic trainings co-sponsorships have included the Department of Veteran Affairs and Department of Behavioral Health, San Bernardino, California, Peace over Violence, Los Angeles, Center for Community Solutions, San Diego, Clear Path for Veterans, Syracuse, New York, Wellness Works for Veterans, Glendale, California, Upaya Zen Center, the Veterans’ Administration, Los Angeles, Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles, Clearpath for Veterans, Loma Linda University, Sierra Tucson, Clearview Treatment Services, Crestwood Behavioral Health, Mendocino County’s First Five, Santa Barbara County’s Drug and Alcohol Programs, Stanislaus County Disaster Response Department, Buncombe County Schools, North Carolina Emory University, School of Nursing, Atlanta, Georgia, Smith College and Stanford University’s Perinatal Outreach Program. In March 2011 the Department of Defense published a white paper, in which TRI’s Trauma Resiliency Model, was named a promising practice to help our returning veterans, active duty service members and their families.