NCA-STAR was created in 2019 with a simple purpose: Connecting as many people as possible to helpful trauma information. NCA-STAR has built a bridge between research and the community – engaging both people who have experienced the effects of trauma and stress, as well as the people who work to help them in many environments. The key to NCA-STAR’s work is connection through safety, exploration, and hope.
Our vision is to see systemic-level growth in the understanding of trauma, and in the effectiveness of trauma-informed practices. At NCA-STAR, we value curiosity, inclusion, compassion, creativity, and ongoing learning rooted in research.
What are stress, trauma, and resilience?
At some point in our lives, all of us will experience some sort of life stress and even trauma. At NCA-STAR, we feel the need to broaden the understanding of trauma to meet the experiences of our community.
Stress and trauma
At some point in our lives, all of us will experience life stress and trauma. At NCA-STAR, we feel the need to broaden the definition of trauma that we commonly hear. Trauma can be the result of experiencing a catastrophic, life-threatening event like abuse or neglect. It can be a single incident or a series of events that have lasting effects on a person’s physical, mental, social, emotional, and even spiritual well-being. But traumatic experiences are not always obvious. Our environment itself can be traumatic. Overt racism and oppressive systems continue to cause deep trauma in our communities. A person’s perception of trauma is just as important as the trauma itself.
A traumatic event could be:
- Witnessing violence at home or in the community
- Experiencing a family member attempt or die by suicide
- Personally experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect
- Growing up in a household with substance use problems
- Being raised in an environment with mental health challenges
- Experiencing parental separation or divorce
- Experiencing racism, discrimination, or bigotry
- Having household disruption from incarceration in jail or prison
- Having the experience of not belonging
When traumatic and stressful events such as these are experienced, it can lead to chronic health problems, substance use issues and lifelong mental health challenges. We are learning that trauma disconnects and isolates people in ways that are both external and internal.
Our bodies are amazing. When we are experiencing life stress, our bodies and minds are designed to protect us. You may have heard about the body’s “fight, flight, or freeze” response. After a traumatic event, people may experience one of these responses.
At NCA-STAR, we believe that there are many ways to find resilience and healing on the other side of trauma and stress. Resilience is the capacity to recover and heal after difficulties. Adapting. Bouncing back. Learning to connect again. Finding health and wellness.
We have experts in areas such a posttraumatic growth – the wisdom that can be learned after going through hard times. Some of our faculty specialize in self-compassion, mindfulness, preventing self-harm, how to recognize trauma, and how to become more culturally sensitive and responsive. We have researchers that provide guidance on asking the best questions to develop plans for resilience and healing. We deeply believe and have research to prove that positive change, healing, and growth are possible. The work of NCA-STAR is providing connections to helpful information that can lead our communities to resilience.