The trauma-informed approach used by ICM in all of our services focuses on six key principles:
3) Peer Support
6) Cultural Competency
Trauma-specific programs recognize an individual's need to be respected, informed, connected and hopeful. There is a relationship between trauma and its symptoms such as substance use, mood, and eating disorders. This framework recognizes the need to work collaboratively with government agencies, family, friends, and mental health providers to provide empowerment. For individuals who have been incarcerated, this approach is vital in supporting them in a way that does not inadvertently cause additional harm. To ensure a streamlined approach, the ICM Coordinator/Community Liaison works closely with the program directors, community-based organizations, and correctional staff, by promoting positive reinforcement through trauma-informed practices to best assess and serve returning citizens.
The REACT program is a weekly peace and healing circle in which the women will engage in facilitated discussions that focus on the residual trauma of incarceration, the realities of reentry, and the hard skills needed to have a successful homecoming and future. REACT stands for real effective, approach, changing, trauma and facilitated by ICM Executive Director Tyisha Jackson. REACT was created because formerly incarcerated people come home to a world very different from the one they left.
Tyisha is a walking testimonial of the disconnection experienced by formerly incarcerated people. She has experienced, racial discrimination and the stigma of incarceration. Tyisha had to fight long and hard to achieve the many accomplishments she has today. She is determined to make the transition from incarceration to society less stressful and more resourceful for the women she mentors.
Tyisha understands that for formerly incarcerated people there is a huge digital divide because prisoners have no access to technology that goes beyond the push-button telephone and electric typewriter. For a person just coming home from an extended prison sentence, living in a society where everything is computerized can make something as simple as buying and using a Metrocard seem like calculus. People in society take for granted that everyone knows how to navigate this new technological world. These and many other problems can ultimately lead to recidivism because returning citizens get discouraged. Living in prison seems easier than living in the free world.
In accordance with what we have learned as mentors in this field, a warm meal will open each group meeting to set the tone of a family. Metrocards will be provided to the women at each meeting. Ongoing personal mentorship and coaching will complement the community-centered circles. The facilitators are both Credible Messengers who have lived-experience of incarceration and reintegration.
Formerly incarcerated women have needs, traumas, and responsibilities to family and community that are unique from men. These needs are largely unaddressed in traditional reentry programs. Guest speakers and instructors help the group members adapt to current processes — from job hunting to securing benefits to navigating child welfare to housing programs.