A 16-year-old girl contemplating suicide came to the CALM Center for help. During her stay, she helped create the safety tree, above, a lasting message of hope for youth who come behind her.
A staff member was working on the tree late one night when the girl asked if she could help. Together, they painted the tree and talked about what it means to be safe. Through this conversation, the girl created a safety plan with specific things to do to stay out of crisis.
Trees like this one sprouted across our agency in the fall, part of our implementation of the Sanctuary model of trauma informed care. Over several months, trees were placed in client areas, each expressing a theme of one of the sanctuary commitments/values: Non-Violence, Emotional Intelligence, Social Responsibility, Social Learning, Democracy, Open Communication, and Growth and Change.
At the CALM Center, clients wrote on the leaves what makes them feel safe, such as honesty, love, and kindness, and placed their leaves on the painted tree. At the Tulsa office, clients wrote on leaves what Non-Violence means to them. At some point, leaves puddled around the tree in the lobby. At Sand Springs, clients and staff wrote on leaves what Democracy means to them on a personal level.
This art has an important purpose. Clients and staff became more engaged, on a personal level, in thinking about what it means to create an environment where people feel safe and can heal from trauma, adversity, and chronic stress. The art projects provided another mechanism for us all to consider how we might better control our emotions deal with a loss, or even plan for the future.
Now in our third year of the certification process as a Sanctuary agency, Counseling & Recovery Services’ board, staff and clients continue to work as a community to create a place of safety — a sanctuary — where clients can change their behaviors and lives.