BEE HEARD: What is trauma?

Photo Credit: Native Connections

How do we maintain perspective during uncertainty?

What is Trauma?

Trauma can be defined as a deeply disturbing or distressing experience. Examples of this can be anything from the death of a pet, bullying, experiencing or witnessing domestic violence, or experiencing a life-threatening event. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic last year, it seems as though we are all facing a collective trauma that has affected our economy, impacted the way we interact with one another, and how we show up for work each day, amongst other things.

How do we then find meaning and moments of calm in such unsettling times? What happens in our bodies, in our minds, and how do we make sense of all that is happening around us? 

What happens when we experience trauma? 

When I was in graduate school, I studied a type of therapy called play therapy. In play therapy there was a man named Dr. Gary Landreth, who was often referred to as “the father of play therapy”. Dr. Landreth understood children in ways it seemed adults often struggled to. He would empower them to process the events happening in their lives in ways that felt most natural to them, helping them build resiliency. One of his most popular phrases was “you can’t teach a child who is drowning how to swim.” In other words, you will be less successful having a conversation with a child when they are throwing a tantrum. He would say this to convey the importance of teaching ways to cope during moments when people are calm, as a preventative measure. I think this phrase also speaks to the difficulty of maintaining balance in moments when we are literally and figuratively “flooded.”  When we are in survival mode, as many of us have been recently, it is extremely difficult to build resiliency, look for the silver lining, or sometimes even just go about our daily tasks. Fear can become the dominant emotion. When we are living our lives and making decisions out of fear, it is difficult to maintain a sense of perspective. 

How do we get back to feeling centered?

Again, that answer may look different for everyone. This could include physical exercise, getting together online, meditation, creating, playing, or going to therapy. A first step may just be recognizing that fear is coming up and that this is a normal response our minds and bodies have when we are facing trauma or stress. Once we acknowledge this, a next step may be to take a breath. Often if we can begin by acknowledging an emotion, we can then take a step back from it, and that in turn can allow our minds to bring in a new perspective.

Take some time this week to think about what activities help you feel calm and centered. Then if you can, practice recognizing when you are feeling stressed and take a moment to take a breath. 

If you would like more information on how the mind and body are impacted when we go through stress/trauma I have included the following articles for your reference: The Neuroscience of Stress (, and Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience – A Review (

Want to help and be a part of the change? 

Looking for community members and youth to join the Prevention Coalition tasked to reduce youth substance usage, eliminate mental health stigma, and start the discussion around suicide and prevention. 

Upcoming Prevention Coalition Meetings:

We are going virtual! For more information please contact Precious Collins, Native Connections Program Coordinator for more information 970-563-2487. 

Upcoming Community Events: 

The Southern Ute Native Connections Program is working to put together a virtual talking circle for teens lead by Stephanie Garcia, Native Connections Behavioral Health Therapist and Lisa Pratchett, Licensed Professional School Counselor. Our fist talking circle will be for youth in grades 9-12. More on that to come, so be on the lookout for information posted in the Drum. If you have any questions or feel this is something you may be interested in, please contact Stephanie Garcia at 970-563-2297.


  • Southern Ute Health Center: Behavioral Health Division 69 Capote Drive, Ignacio, CO 970-563-4581. For local Native Americans. We are here to support mental health, substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery. Please call to schedule an appointment to talk to someone.  
  • Southern Ute Division of Social Services: 116 Capote Drive, Ignacio, CO 970-563-2331 for local Native Americans needing assistance with child welfare needs and family support. 
  • Southern Ute Police Department: Anonymous Tip Hotline – Do you have information about a crime? Please call (970) 563-4999. This “Tip Line” was designed to allow you the ability to provide law enforcement with information, anonymously if need be, regarding criminal, drug, or suspicious activity. The “Tip Line” is monitored around the clock by SUPD Investigators, but it DOES NOT replace 9-1-1 or the non-emergency police number 970-563-4401.
  • St. Ignatius Catholic Church: Pastor Cesar Arras, 14826 CO-172, Ignacio, CO 970-563-4241.
  • Second Wind Fund of the Four Corners: Believes that every child and youth at risk of suicide should have access to the mental health treatment they need. We match children and youth at risk for suicide with licensed therapists in their communities, 720-962-0706.
  • Women’s Resource Center: Creates personal, social, and professional growth opportunities for all women in La Plata County, 970-247-1242.


  • 24/7 Axis Crisis Line: SW Colorado 970-247-5245 or Text 741741 
  • Colorado Crisis Line: 844-493-8255 or Text “TALK” to 38255. You’ll immediately be put in contact with a trained counselor, ready to text with you about anything.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Has both an online chat and a 24/7 phone line at 1-800-273-8255 if you are thinking of suicide or need help for a loved one.
  • The Trevor Project: Which seeks to serve LGBT youth, has a 24/7 suicide prevention line at 866-488-7386.
  • WeRNative: Join the movement by liking them on Facebook ( , signing up for the text messaging service (text NATIVE to 24587).
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