From Trauma to Thriving: Using Assets and Sparks in Mental Health Treatment

From humble beginnings 45 years ago in an Ohio farmhouse, Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO) has expanded into a large mental health agency, serving youth and families from 20 counties in Ohio. With programs such as outpatient counseling for youth and adults, home and community-based therapy for children and families, children's residential treatment, foster care, and adoption, CCHO offers many services with the same main goal: supporting young people.

CCHO receives referrals from organizations like juvenile court systems, child protective services, and churches, and serves individuals and caregivers who seek out assistance on their own. “It is a privilege to be invited into the lives of people who are hurting and to offer treatment, support and advocacy,” said Kary McBride, CCHO’s Director of Clinical Services.

As a mental health organization, CCHO works with young people who have experienced childhood trauma that can greatly impact their development. Unresolved trauma can lead to a young person experiencing behavioral problems, learning disabilities, or emotional distress, conditions that can unfortunately come to define them in the eyes of others.  As Ms. McBride explained, “Rather than trauma being something that has happened to the child, it mistakenly becomes embedded in the child's identity. The child is then seen as a set of symptoms and behaviors that need to be controlled and managed rather than a person who is an asset to be loved, cherished, and nurtured.”  

Watching kids and families suffer from trauma led CCHO to develop a treatment culture that treats trauma, but also promotes healing and resiliency. “In our process of developing our trauma therapy treatment programming, we have learned that we need to promote growth opportunities and future orientation for our clients. We need to be agents of hope,” said Ms. McBride.

In looking for a common language and curriculum to use with children and families to promote strengths and resiliency, CCHO decided that Search Institute's 40 Developmental Assets® and Sparks were the best fit for their organization.

Once CCHO decided to implement assets and sparks, they immediately began establishing the mindset and language with staff. To introduce their staff to this new mindset, CCHO held a 2-day workshop about the Developmental Assets and sparks, led by Search Institute Senior Facilitator Jim Conway. As Ms. McBride explained, Conway reinforced the great work their organization was already doing while giving them new ways to engage with kids. “He acknowledged how much we care for our clients, he listened to our stories, and he helped to reframe our experiences in the asset language.”

To continue their work with sparks and assets, CCHO has purchased the Igniting Sparks Out of School Time Kit and the Developmental Asset Profile (DAP), which they plan to give to all incoming residential clients and many clients in outpatient treatment, home-based treatment, and foster care.

CCHO has already seen a change in the community’s response to their organization since the incorporation of Search Institute research in their work. “The asset language and sparks philosophy will be used throughout the continuum of care we offer and has already opened doors with county referral sources and parents in noticing that CCHO is offering something special to kids and families,” said Ms. McBride.

CCHO plans on the Developmental Assets and Search Institute being a part of who the organization is and what they stand for in the future. “It truly is an outward representation of what is at the heart of our organization. We couldn't have asked for a better fit. Enough cannot be said about how the assets and sparks language honors children and their capacity for greatness,” said Ms. McBride.

“Whether an organization is faith-based, governmental, academic, large, or very small, Search offers a common language for talking about kids in a strength-based way.”

For more information about bringing a Search Institute facilitator to your organization, e-mail or call (877-240-7251) Partner Services Coordinator Mary Shrader.


Publish Date: 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

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1 Comment

Good to know

It is sad to say that their are children who are suffering from trauma, that beyond their innocence and young age they have to go through therapy in order for them to over come the trauma that they have experience. It is also a great news that this institution is gradually developing to be able to improve their services and their facilities to be more efficient and helpful to their patients.
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