Moral Compass

A psychotherapist, with expertise in helping children and teens who have experienced trauma, recently spoke in Spring Branch ISD at two Mentor U/Parent U events titled, "Facing the Dragon Together."

For the mentors and parents in attendance, Caroline Sweatt-Eldredge, LPC, of Memorial Heights Counseling Houston, provided a baseline understanding of what trauma is and how it shapes survivors’ lives.

“Trauma means being exposed to some sort of stressful event or situation that creates an intense sense of fear, helplessness, or horror,” she said. The intensity of the experience affects the way a person sees the world and his or her own identity.

Using real examples, Sweatt-Eldredge shared the stages children go through as they grow up and develop a positive sense of self.

When a traumatic event or situation occurs, the ability to develop trust and healthy relationships can be impaired by fear and survival responses.

“This session gave me insight into the behavior of my mentee,” said a mentor.

Children focused on survival cannot grasp lectures or sermons about what they need to do, understand complex reasoning or logic, follow discussions about abstract concepts, or solve puzzles or mathematics. Because they continuously do not “feel” safe, even when the traumatic event has passed, unhealthy responses give a false sense of control to the victim, and can include self-harm, hoarding and distrust of strangers. 

While mentors and parents are not professional counselors or psychotherapists, the speaker shared some ideas for building trust and creating a sense of ‘felt safety’ when working with children – or even adults -- coping with trauma. Many of her suggestions come from on the Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) practices developed at the Karen Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University.

“This is an eye-opener for me to learn about informed-care for children and adolescents,” said a parent.

To view a recording of the presentation, click here.

To access the PowerPoint from the presentation, click here.

Mentor U and Parent U presentations are provided throughout the school year for the continuing education of mentors and parents. For more information, contact Mary Pizana ( or Betsabeth Beyk (