Comments by Beth Filson

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  • Hi Corinna – Always like hearing what you are up to!
    Regarding the ACE Study — Its value is in what it reveals about the impact of very specific, early adverse events to later-life health and wellness issues. The ten ACES in the short form questionnaire are not meant to be comprehensive, nor representative of the types of trauma in our society. Mainly, the function of the ten ACES is 1. Many of us have experienced these events as part of our normal, day to day life. But we’re not paying attention to the cost of these events, and 2. They are specific enough to be definable, and therefore measurable. That’s it. I don’t think the ACE is meant to be inclusive, comprehensive or take into account resilience factors, socioeconomic stressors, meaning making around events, whether the event is shared — or other dimensions that I think people tend to pin to it. Some of the conclusions I draw from the ACE study include 1. the incredible cost in dollars we are spending on services and systems that do not address underlying conditions that lead to these problems and social challenges in the first place, 2. the need for a public health approach to addressing social and interpersonal factors that impact on health and wellness, and 3. the importance of a trauma-informed approaches in social services, judicial system, education, foster care, homeless services, addiction services, in our communities, and more. The value of teaching the ACE study is that people begin to understand the trajectory that early adversity creates – how we land where we land. We can begin to make sense out of our own and other’s pain. it also shifts the focus from the problem within the person to seeing the problems in the world impacting on the person. This is the birthplace of social change. Intervention has to be at the level of the family, or community. No longer can we see sick people, we now see a sick world – and with this vision, new ideas for intervening and for healing. I am with you on the fact that the ACE questionnaire gets used without follow up, or context. When used as a screening tool without committed attention to the pain that it reveals – that to me feels criminal. I share some of the blame. I use to invite training participants to fill out the questionnaire. I soon learned that people need time to process the implications of their own scores.

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