The OMID Concept A Person Centered Holistic Approach At OMID we believe in creating a warm, secure, and non-judgmental environment in which the young women who are in our care begin to experience what it feels like to have the value of their lives affirmed, and to be treated with respect, dignity, and kindness. Our approach is innovative as it is gender sensitive, youth focused, and trauma informed. It is a program with the right blend of components especially designed to re-integrate our young women into society and gives them the tools to rebuild their lives. The self-empowerment process is based on the four cornerstones of the program, care, counseling, education and training. At the conclusion of the program graduates either enrol in a vocational training program or a degree program at a university. We believe that girls with dreams are women with vision. “What is amazing about OMID is that all the girls, despite all of their past troubles, are so hopeful about life, so much so that when you leave an OMID facility you yourself are full of hope!” Lily Alavi, Associate Professor, World Language and Cultures, University of Utah. A Trauma Informed Environment to Rebuild Broken Spirits At OMID, we cannot underestimate the significance of having a stable adult who cares and connects with each of the young women in our care. Healing begins in secure relationships and through meaningful connections. The blend of our program elements and the skills of our staff make for a truly innovative and ever evolving trauma informed, person centered. We welcome girls and young women who present challenging behavior, knowing it is the product of emotional hurt. Empathy = Safety, trust and meaningful and lasting healing of broken spirits. To learn more about our trauma informed culture and how we use creative therapies please read on. A Trauma Informed Culture So what happens when a child experiences early traumatic events? The impact of adverse childhood experiences can often create toxic stresses that affect a young person’s development and learning. Their brains often become wired to function on survival mode; and often they resort to flight or fight tactics. Traumatic experiences can impact children’s moods, their social and emotional development and their ability to regulate their emotions. They may have developed coping skills to help them survive the repeated trauma that later become mal-adaptive and isolate the children as they grow. They become broken and tossed aside by those close to them, who are often the cause of their neglect, physical, psychological or sexual abuse. Having lost their childhood, they often lose their self-respect, self-worth, self-confidence and they also lose their willingness to trust adults. OMID staff members need to go through extensive trauma-informed training in order to learn how to adapt their expectations, behaviours and communication style to meet the needs of the young women in their care. Within the trauma-informed framework, staff members can become safe adults and role models that can help the young women regain trust; increase their resilience and gain the skills they need to rebuild their lives. We offer them a safe place for them to grow, learn and develop into adults who have the potential to achieve what they want in life with renewed hope. To this end, OMID social workers, psychologists, educational advisers and members of the management team have all participated and will be participating in an ongoing series of important training sessions. Each staff member starts her/his training with a course in Resource Based Therapies (RBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Learning and Healing through Creative Therapies The art, music, and drama are part of OMID’s therapeutic program and are distinct from educational classes like English, Math and IT. Traditional therapeutic approaches frequently fail with individuals who have experienced intense trauma over extended periods of time. We have found creative expression to be a more effective tool in their healing process. The four creative therapies OMID employs are music engagement, visual arts therapy, movement-based creative expression, and expressive writing. In these forms of expression, we use arts modalities and creative processes during intentional interventions to foster emotional well-being. The creative processes become a refuge from the intense emotions associated with the traumas that the young women have experienced. They become a powerful way to help the young women to express these feelings through tactile involvement at a somatic level, as well as to facilitate verbal communication and cathartic release and reveal unconscious materials and symbols that cannot be expressed through words.