approach to help individuals developself-identity. In stage one, individualslearn how to feel safe, in control andtrust others. In stage two, they processdramatic memories and grieve lossesrelated to their ACEs. In the final stage,they reconnect with the world, people,their jobs…with the goal of building newlives for themselves.
Gereen Anderson was able to rebuild herlife, but it took time.
At the age of 20, when her motherdied, she felt lost without the womanwho had essentially been her life. Sheentered into an emotionally unstable12-year relationship with a womanmuch like her mother. But she alsostarted what she calls “a spiritualjourney to find my place.” She attributeswhere she is today—graduated fromthe Correctional Services program atMacEwan University, and now workingwith offenders—to a series of healthyrelationships that eventually led her tolife-skills coaching. She acknowledgesthat her journey isn’t over. “You’realways processing your past,” she says.
Processing the past is somethingsisters Virginia and Rusti Lehay also didto overcome the effects of their ACEs.
Both were sexually abused bymale relatives through childhoodand adolescence, and Virginia alsoby a school principal. Virginia saysjournalling and genograms (familytrees with health information) werethe therapies that helped her the most.Health practitioners use genograms toassess risk factors, and Virginia, now a
The best opportunitywe have to make adifference and promotegood mental and physicalhealth outcomes isat the time of early braindevelopment