Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Treatment (SMART):
Starting at a young age, children learn to process their world through their senses. They learn to regulate their emotions not only through their senses but their relationships and connections to those around them, most importantly their caregiver. At YBGR we utilize a variety of evidenced-based treatment approaches for children that focus on changing their negative thought patterns, emotions and behaviors. As an agency working towards more trauma-informed care practices, we recognize the need to meet the children and families where they are at. Through the Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Treatment (SMART), we now have the opportunity to truly meet children and their families where they are at in their treatment. SMART was designed using a variety of treatment and therapy expertise including: trauma-focused psychotherapy, sensorimotor psychotherapy, sensory integration, play therapy, attachment and family therapy, developmental psychology and human development. Clinicians using SMART work with the child (and hopefully the caregiver) to nurture healing and growth. This model offers flexibility to be implemented as individual therapy, caregiver-child therapy or parent psychoeducation/coaching.
This modality can be used to treat somatic problems, emotional dysregulation, posttraumatic stress disorder, behavioral disorders, mood and anxiety disorders that are based in a history of trauma. Through a very generous donation, YBGR was able to have Elizabeth Warner, Psy.D. and Heather Finn, LICSW from SMARTmoves (www.smartmovespartners.com) come and train our staff over the course of three days. YBGR was able to train not only the clinicians throughout our organization in the SMART model, but also have some non-clinical staff (school-based behavior specialists, care coordinators, program managers, and mental health workers) trained on how they can help support the therapists in their work with the clients and families. In an effort to further collaborate with outside providers, five Billings Clinic Staff (4 therapists and 1 psychiatrist) joined the training as well.
During the first two days of training, clinicians spent much of their time learning the philosophy and application behind the model as well as learning about the equipment. Best of all, they got to test all of the equipment to see what it did and various ways to incorporate it into their work with children and families. At YBGR we work with many clients who have experienced multiple traumatic events, often severe and pervasive in nature. Through this unique model clinicians learned just how to work with the children in a specially designed room to help facilitate emotional and behavioral regulation. The room is exclusively designed for this purpose, children can playfully use big pillows, weighted blankets, balance beams, and other equipment that allows for full engagement of their brain and body. There has been research to show the generational impact of trauma; meaning that parents who experience trauma will inevitability pass down the trauma to their children. Countless studies exist and research regarding the Adverse Childhood Experiences and the generational impact. For the caregivers who are involved in the treatment of their child, the strategies taught to their child often are useful for them personally as well. Clinicians can also meet privately with the caregiver to offer some guidance to help coach their child.
It’s YBGR’s effort to help not only the child but the whole family to help continue the growth within the family and ultimately within the community.