CMF incarcerated individuals learn about childhood trauma

Two CMF inmates hold a book called "The Body Keeps the Score."
Mentors from a youth diversion program at CMF are studying the book "The Body Keeps the Score." They also took part in a lecture with the author.

Incarcerated individuals who serve as youth mentors recently took part in a special lecture with a bestselling author.

UNITY (Understanding, Nurturing, Inspiring the Youth), a program at California Medical Facility (CMF), featured a lecture with author and world renowned trauma researcher, Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk.

Dr. Van der Kolk is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “The Body Keeps the Score.” The book looks at how brain science, attachment research and body awareness can be turned into treatments. According to the author, these treatments “directly counteract the helplessness and invisibility associated with trauma, enabling both adults and children to reclaim ownership of their bodies and lives.”

As youth mentors, incarcerated individuals have been reading the book to better understand themselves and the youth they mentor.

“(The lecture) afforded me the opportunity to be exposed to transformative information that will profoundly impact the life of the youth I mentor as well as myself,” said one mentor. “My body has kept the score for the past 43 years of my life. I did not realize how much trauma that I did not even know I had experienced because I normalized it. The community I was raised in taught me to normalize it. As a child, I had a right to feel secure.”

Another youth mentor was also impressed with the lecture.

“We all suffer from various forms of trauma. The more I learn and understand about tracking, processing and unpacking — which is when healing can begin — my own traumas, the better equipped I will be to inform and help the young people I come in contact with through UNITY,” the mentor said.

UNITY is a youth diversion program within CMF that works to prevent youth from beginning or continuing involvement in criminal activities and anti-social behavior. The goal is to prevent the youth’s entrance into the correctional system.

Learn more about Dr. Van der Kolk.

Submitted by Emily Haley, Community Resources Manager

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