Beyond the Cycle of Trauma Institute

Practical Neurobiology-Based Tools, Skills and Resources for Community-based Healing from Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Resources and Accreditation

Surviving Trauma can be a confusing struggle for many, either in our daily lives, in our work, our interactions with others.   Working with individuals with a history of significant trauma  can also be a challenge for many physicians, nurses, administrators,  front-line workers, teachers, employers, foster or adoptive parents. All too often, how we feel like reacting to difficult interactions, or how we think we should react, only deepens the cycle of pain when one of us has had Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) or significant trauma in our past.

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to providing affordable and practical neuroscience-based education and resources to empower health care workers, administrators, counsellors, teachers parents, workers, professionals, organizations, and communities that work with the after-effects of trauma. We develop simple tools to help people understand what they are seeing and feeling in order to better respond to stressful situations, decrease the chance of contributing to trauma cycles, improve their resiliency, and strengthen one's chances of healing past the cycle of trauma.

From our physician members who have received full training, we aim to expand towards sustainable low cost ongoing edcation for healthcare and clinic staff throughout the country; as well as create support groups of professionals who share a similar set of challenges around trauma, through a common understanding of brain basics of trauma-rooted behaviours, and its resultant response skill sets that can be used to enhance our resiliency, and our effectiveness in reaching beyond the cycles of trauma.

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Learn some basic essentials for trauma-informed care through the lens of a healthcare provider. This video has been divided into 4 modules for ease of viewing. To be notified should a CME Credit version of this video become available, join the Institute at

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There are multiple reasons why an ACE score of zero can be a false negative, occurring in someone with a high ACE or high severe Trauma load suffering from consequences of that trauma. Studies that claim an absence of harm from administration of ACE questionnaires also often have a frequency of between 5-30% of participants who report feeling negative from being asked (Jaffe et al). However, unlike our office practice, many if not most studies also provide participants with rapid followup and access to counselling if needed after an ACE or Trauma questionnaire is administered.

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Standard Trauma-Informed Practice recommendations that is commonly taught, or written about, provides a helpful start to learning about trauma-informed approaches, but can sometimes backfire when applied universally -- in other words, does, at times, retraumatize patients or clients. Read of one example of a "hole" in standard TIP in this blog.

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Learn More: Dissociation image
What Could Dissociation Look Like?

A student asks her teacher questions about a test one day, but the next day, she insists that she didn't know about there being a test at all. The teacher wonders why the student is lying.

A child is fine one moment, but suddenly, with no warning, starts screaming, hitting and yelling mean words. The parent or teacher wonders if the child is being manipulative.

A patient regularly books appointments a week in advance, yet frequently fails to show up. The doctor feels taken advantage of.

A person is tired of other people telling him he lied, stole, yelled, or said things that he is sure he did not say because he has no memory of doing any of these. He wonders why people don't believe him and is getting quite annoyed.

Although the above examples are familiar to many and may often be attributed to other causes such as "difficult behavior", they are all, in fact, common examples of dissociative behavior.

What is Dissociation?
Dissociation is one of the brain's ways to protect itself from overwhelm. At its mildest form, it occurs in all of us -- for example, when we read a fascinating book and become unaware of the time or what is happening in the room around us. With childhood trauma, the brain's natural ability to dissociate often expands to include disconnections to parts of one's memory, identity, experiences, body sensations, sensory perceptions, or consciousness. At first, the brain might dissociate to protect a child or adult from the overwhelm of inescapable danger, such as in situations of abuse, neglect, or other traumas. However, with time, it can occur more easily, even in situations that are not dangerous. The once helpful, protective mechanism of the brain can then lead to problems for people who are dissociative, and for their interactions with others.

To learn more about dissociation, see the short films, "The Window of Learning", and "Here/Hear to Heal", or  follow this link:

Therapists treating children with dissociation may find the following books and resources helpful:

Dr. Erika Cheng

Executive Director, Physician

Erika Cheng is a Family Physician who does emergency, hospital and clinic work. She also served for many years as the local medical director, and provides Trauma-and Dissociation-focused psychotherapy. Her areas of interest includes ways to positively shift the negative dynamics that often occurs when those who have experienced early relational trauma intersect with healthcare, educational and other services – dynamics leading to increased stress and burnout for providers, and worsened outcomes and retraumatization in Survivors. It was this interest that led to her passion for teaching frontline workers brain-based, healing-aligned skills for working more effectively with people who have a history of trauma. She is also the Executive Producer and co-writer of the “Reaching Past the Cycle of Trauma” © series of short films, and serves as Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, Beyond the Cycle of Trauma Institute.

K.C. Scott

Certified Addiction Counsellor

As a certified addiction counsellor, and with her experience as a Drug & Alcohol Outreach Worker, K.C. has transformed her lived experience into a positive force for healing past the cycle of trauma. She has provided addiction prevention teaching at schools, and hosted youth support groups. She actively advocates for improved community and healthcare provider knowledge and skills on how to work more effectively and compassionately with individuals with a lived experience of complex or intergenerational trauma.

Dr. Amber Bacenas

Family Physician

Dr. Amber Bacenas is a family physician who provides full service primary care in hospital, clinic, and emergency medicine. She has also held, and continues to hold, a variety of medical leadership positions. Having lived lived and worked most of her life in rural/remote Canada, she is passionate about improving healthcare delivery in rural communities. She believes trauma-informed practice and cultural competency are vital to medical education.

Hannah Le Bouder

Co-Founding Director, Medical Student

Hannah Le Bouder is particularly passionate about connecting youth who are survivors of childhood trauma to the community support they need to reach past the cycle of trauma. During Senior High, she created a Youth Peer Counselling Group with the aim of creating a safe space for youth who were struggling with emotional issues to find support from one other. She is currently pursuing a Medical Degree through the University of British Columbia after having received her undergraduate training in Behavioural Neurosciences.

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