Haven Hosts Conversation on Trauma-Informed Peer Support

Elsa O'Brien, Staff Writer

Haven hosted a Conscious Conversations event training students on trauma-informed peer support through education on trauma and its impacts on survivors, as well as methods of survivor-centric support and self care at the Center for Women’s Studies on Tuesday, April 5. The event — facilitated by Haven staff members Charm Little-Ray, Associate Director of Survivor Support Services, Assistant Director Michele Passonno and Intern Mackenzie Harrison — highlighted the importance of an informed approach to trauma. 

“Education about being an informed peer is so important because peers can be first responders. Research shows that students turn to their friends for support first and that first interaction is important,” Little-Ray said. “Being informed as a peer allows someone fundamental knowledge on how to show up and the resources they can direct their peers to if the person wants it.”

A small but hard-working team, staff Haven work together to create events and support both survivors and peers. 

“Haven staff welcomes feedback, suggestions, and ideas from our interns,” Little-Ray said. “We understand that they have something we do not have which is lived experience as peers on this campus. When we are presented with opportunities to collaborate we usually meet together and come up with plans for presentations together.”

Harrison said the event felt both successful and personally rewarding. 

“It felt good to lead it in such an informal way, and I think that helped make other students feel more comfortable participating,” Harrison said, adding that the event’s topic of peer support is among the most rewarding aspects of her time at Haven. “The skills I’ve gained from Haven about peer support have served me well, both in my official Haven capacities but also just as a person supporting my friends. … I value the fact that this role has made me someone who students feel they can come to when they need support, whether it’s to get support from me directly or to trust me to point them in the direction of someone who can help.”

Haven Ambassador Natalia Legname attended the event and similarly noted the benefits of the event’s discussion format.

“The environment during the event felt very relaxed and open to all thoughts and opinions,”  Legname said. “I loved how conversational it felt; it felt like less of a lecture and it was more discussion-based. I really enjoyed how the conversation was geared towards learning from each other.”

Although Legname was not working the event in an official capacity, she believes that Conscious Conversations will help further her work as a Haven ambassador and peer.

“I felt that attending would allow me to gain more insights on how to better facilitate conversations with my peers, as well as how to ensure that mental/emotional boundaries are maintained between myself and others during those conversations,” Legame said. “As an Ambassador, I believe it’s important to support Haven as an organization by attending their events. For me, attending them also serves as a refresher for skills that I learned during training.”

Survivors, peers, and any member of the Colgate community can meet or request to meet with both certified Haven and Counseling staff during their walk-in business hours, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Additionally, students can call (315) 228-7385 or email [email protected] to request to speak with or meet with someone from Haven. Little-Ray noted that while walk-ins are always welcome, it is often best to contact various support services through phone or email.

“We suggest [calling and/or emailing] because there are times when Haven staff are out of the office for various reasons and we would not want someone waiting inside or out for us,” Little-Ray said. I like to tell students I am probably the only Charm in the Colgate directory, so please feel free to email me if all the other ways do not work for you.”