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Episode 88

The Trauma-Informed Approach that is Changing Lives Around the World

Amanda Purvis, MS Training and Consultation Specialist with the Karen Purvis Institute of Child Development (KPICD) at Texas Christian University and AGCI Board Member

You are listening to Together by AGCI. I’m Melissa Rush. I am so excited about our conversation with Amanda Purvis. Amanda is a consultant with the Karen Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University and an AGCI Board member at KPICD. Her main focus is instructing systems, organizations and professionals working with children who have experienced trauma in Trust-Based Relational Intervention for TBRI®. In addition to her incredible work with TBRI® at KPICD, Amanda is also the mother of five children, three of whom joined their family through adoption. This is a heartwarming episode filled with hope and the life-changing impacts of TBRI® that Amanda has witnessed firsthand. Let’s get into our conversation.

Well, I am so excited to have Amanda Purvis join us today on the podcast. I had the pleasure of spending some time with Amanda in Ethiopia, where she helped host a TBRI® training the very first in the country, which was amazing. So it’s so nice to see you again, Amanda. Thanks for, thanks for joining us. It’s good to see you, Melissa, and thank you for not telling everyone how sick I was in Ethiopia. You know, that’s not the first thing that comes to mind.

I’m like, oh, it was just so fun getting to ride around in the van with you and talk and like get to see you, you know, speak so passionately about TBRI®. But yes, you were very sick. I feel like we all were sick at some point during that trip, so I don’t feel as bad, but it was def that’s what comes to my mind when I feel, well, I don’t blame you. Yeah, that was pretty, I somehow managed to not get sick on that trip, thank goodness. But yeah, no, most people did. And I was like, it’s just a matter of time. Like I did not trust it until like several days after I’d been home and I was like, okay. I think, I think, I think I made it. So, yeah. Well, I would love if you could just start off by sharing a little bit about yourself and, and the role you’re in today. Sure. So my name is Amanda Purvis and I work at the Karen Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University and at our institute, that’s where trust-based relational intervention or TBRI® was created. And I work there on the outreach team as a trainer consultant for organizations and systems across the globe who are trying to implement TBRI® and trauma-informed care. So that’s what I do for work. I’m also a mom.

I have five kids, all of whom are teenagers except for one is technically a pre-teen right now, but because she has four teenage siblings, she is a teenager. Yeah. So yeah, I have five kids, three who were adopted through foster care and then two biological children. Awesome. Thanks for sharing that. So how did you get involved with the Karen Pervs Institute and also just for people who are like Amanda Purvis, Karen Purvis, no relation there. Right? You’re right. Yeah. We both married into the name, and we never actually figured out if there was any distant relationship, but if there was it was very distant. Yeah. So I got into TBRI® and involved with the institute when, actually when I was in my undergraduate. Okay. I took a psychology, A parenting course, and we studied Dr. Daniel Siegel in that course. And I absolutely loved all of his work. And at the end of this semester, I had to write a paper comparing and contrasting Daniel Siegel’s parenting strategies with someone else’s. And so I just googled who agrees with Daniel Siegel. Cause I didn’t wanna read like a whole book about, you know, something that I was like, sure. Oh, this is crazy. I don’t agree with any of this. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And that was actually the year that the Connected child was released. Okay. And that is the book that Dr. Karen Purvis and Dr. David Cross wrote kind of explaining TBRI® before we even called it TBRI®. And so I had known since I was a little girl that I wanted to adopt. And so when I saw that book I was like, oh, I’ll read this. This will help me in my future life. Yeah. And so I became familiar with their work in, in my undergrad and then basically stalked them. Like, I’m a little bit embarrassed to say this, but I love it. I was just so enthralled with how they had taken science and psychology and things that seemed really hard to apply and had made it this really applicable thing. And so I ended up finding out about, they were at the time doing conferences in different places and I live in Colorado and lived in Colorado then. And two years in a row they came to Colorado and did a conference. Oh. And so I went with my husband at the time and I just sat there and I knew, I was like, I’m gonna do this for the rest of my life. Wow. And I didn’t know what this meant. I didn’t know if it just meant like following this old lady named Karen around, or if it meant attending conference Karen groupie. Yeah. But I just felt like it was, for me personally, it was the application of the gospel.

And in the first time that I had ever heard like, oh, this is what I’ve been wanting to do with my life. This is what it means to live out my faith in a way that serves children and families globally. And so it just gave me like something to hold onto. And so that felt really hopeful to me at the time. Yeah. Wow. That’s so cool. I also like predestined ca. I mean like just that, you know, they ended up coming to Colorado. I mean they’re based in Texas. Like it’s I don’t know, like that that seems meant to be to me. Yeah. It really was and even, yeah, from there I, we saved for years for me to get the training and I made up an organization, I lied on my application and was like, I work for this organization. And because I wasn’t technically like a, even though I was a social worker, like no one from my organization was sending me to implement TBRI®, I just knew I needed the information. And so I lied on my application, and it worked. And then I came back and lo and behold, my organization wouldn’t let me train everyone in TBRI®. So I ended up having two women that I worked with at the time. I was like, you guys have to go to this, and we have to change everything about Colorado Child Welfare.

And so they went and then we kind of slowly started infiltrating and we had an organization that would train and we were contacted my children, went to a Royal Family kids camp and their camp found out that I knew TBRI® and said, Hey, can you come train our volunteers to use this? And lo and behold, it really, really helped equip their volunteers to serve the kids at camp. Yeah. And so from there, all of the Colorado camps heard about it. And so for a few years, my friend Jill and I were just training all of these royal family kids camps in Colorado and they were loving it and it went to the national level. Wow. And they were like, can you train us nationally? And we were like, no. Like we have real jobs. They’re doing this on the weekend. And other husbands are mad at us like, yeah, we can’t, we can’t train you nationally, but you should call the Karen Purvis Institute. And so at the time we were, we were in relationship with the institute, but we didn’t have the capacity to do that. And so then the institute kind of reached back out to us and said, will you help us do this national training for them? And so that was kind of how I got intimately connected with the institute and then eventually ended up working there and I’ve now been there for six years. Wow.

That’s a really cool story. Thank you for sharing that. So for anyone that’s listening to this and they’re like, okay, well, like what is TBRI®? Like how, how does it, how does it have such an impact on kids and families? Can you just kind of give, you know, basic level crash course? What is TBRI®? Absolutely. Yeah. So TBRI® or trust-based relational intervention is a trauma-informed attachment rich, sensory rich lens for creating relationships and environments that promote healing and healthy development. Truly for just humans. I think that oftentimes TBRI® and historically TBRI® has really kind of been marketed, for lack of a better word Sure. As like this intervention to use on those really hard kids from trauma. And actually what TBRI® is is just this package of beautiful principles for relationships and how to create healing through relationship. Cuz what we know is that for many of the kids that we serve, that we love, they’ve experienced trauma in relationship. And so what we know is the only way to heal that is through relationships. And so TBRI® is an intervention that has three sets of principles that are based on connecting, which is our attachment principles and mindfulness about our own stuff.

And then empowering, which has to do with creating environments as well as both physical environments as well as within our own bodies. So we learn about sensory and things like that. Yeah. And then lastly, the correcting principles, which has to do with correcting behavior. And so we talk about proactive and things that we can do to teach kids proactively and then responsive when, when the wheels do fall off cuz they do, yeah. How do we respond in a trauma-informed way to help create connection and in empowering and yet still teach them the right way. Awesome. Thank you for for diving into that cuz Yeah. If you’re, if you haven’t heard, if you’re listening to this, you probably are familiar with TBRI®, but just in case, so you’re not like, I don’t know what this means and then I’d just be so curious like why is TBRI® so groundbreaking and why like when you first learned about it were you like, oh, like I, this is going to be my life essentially. Like this is what I’m going to do. Yeah. So I think, not on a personal note, but from just a macro perspective Yeah. I think that the idea of being trauma informed has become a thing, right? Yes. Like everybody’s like, oh yeah, we have to be trauma-informed. Oh, I’m looking for a trauma-informed therapist, I’m looking for a trauma-informed teacher, I want, you know, whatever it is.

We now understand that trauma affects us and so we want to be informed of that. I think the difference between TBRI® and being trauma informed is that TBRI® is trauma informed, but it is, what do we do about it now? Right? It’s the answer to trauma. And not that I’m saying it’s a bandaid. Like unfortunately it’s not like, oh you had trauma beep, now you’ve had TBRI® and you’re, you’re all better. Yes. I’m not saying it in that kind of kitschy, it’s the answer, but it is the what do we do to create patterns of healing in our relationships after someone has experienced trauma. And so it has caught on because I would say professionals and parents are dying for tools that work. Yeah. And like when we talk about burnout, whether it’s, or secondary trauma, whether we’re talking about caregivers or professionals, it is tightly interwoven with this idea that if we are doing things that don’t work, then we feel like failures. Yeah. And so of course we’re exhausted, of course we quit. Of course. We don’t wanna keep going. And so I think when people get the tools of TBRI® and get those like wins, then you can’t take it away from them. Like, they’re like, oh my gosh, I’ve been trying to find something that works and I found it. Yeah.

So I think there’s that piece of why it’s caught on and why it’s so effective. And then for me personally, and I kind of mentioned this earlier, but I think for me it was the, like it made sense of all the things I knew, but I didn’t have language for sure. And so I think oftentimes when, when any of us are going through our own journeys at some point, like we find language for things that maybe happened in our childhood or that we’ve experienced or that we’ve always felt, but we didn’t have the right words for. And I think TBRI® gave me the words for my own experiences in childhood and then it also gave me the science and the research and the understanding of, and here’s why I wanna do things differently. Yeah. Or here’s why I wanna change this and here’s how to do that. And so it, it gave me the why and the how to something I already knew intrinsically within myself, which kind of gave me the confidence then to make the change. Right. Yeah. Yeah. That’s so well put. Cuz it’s like it’s, it’s, it’s one thing to, to see like what’s going on like clearly and understand that and that’s where I feel like a lot of like methods kind of stop. They’re like this is what’s going on. Good luck. Yeah.

You know, but TBRI then is like, okay, this is what’s going on and here’s something you can do about it and it works. Which is yeah. Why it’s taken off so well. Yeah. And I think the other piece too that you so beautifully said is not only like this is what’s going on and this is what to do about it, but also, and this is maybe what you experienced as a child. Yeah. Or how you have seen this, you know, situation and interpreted that situation. And so it’s like this mindfulness piece too that has been, I would say the most important and long-term change as people begin to implement TBRI®. And I can give like a, I feel like we’re talking like really theoretical and if people don’t know TBRI®, they’ll be like what the heck are these people talking about? Like an example, I was trying to think of a really practical example. So we know that people who have experienced trauma, and I’m saying that with like air quotes because it turns out that’s all of us. Yeah. Yes. We like to point at other people when we say that. But all of that to say people who have experienced trauma oftentimes are result of that trauma is a loss of voice.

Meaning we didn’t feel heard in that moment or people didn’t listen to our nos or our yeses or what we needed or what we wanted or weren’t able to meet those. And so as a result we came out of that trauma believing that our voice doesn’t matter. Yeah. And when we believe that our voice doesn’t matter, then our behaviors right. Are what we use to get our needs met. And so when we talk about okay, understanding that, okay, I can now understand that my child’s behavior of stealing food from the pantry is because when he would ask for a snack or when he needed a snack, it either wasn’t like there wasn’t any, or they weren’t able to give it to him or they refused. Right? Yeah. And so this behavior makes sense, right? Yeah. Now I can make sense of this behavior but then it’s like, but now what do I do about it? Right? Yeah. And so with TBRI®, it’s like here’s what we do when a kid is stealing food, right? Yes. Like we say, you never have to steal food here. Here’s this yes basket of food and anytime you want food doesn’t matter. If we’re eating dinner and you want food from the yes basket, if you ask me with good words and good eyes, I’m gonna say yes, let’s try it. You never have to steal here.

And you know, oh do you wanna take that basket to your room? Great. Like, and so like we create this, what do we do about it? But then like it, that all sounds very easy. But then when you go to do it as a parent for example, if you weren’t able to express your needs or wants around food or you had some, even though it might not have been that you were never, you never starved, you were never depleted of food. Right? Yeah. But there’s some sort of food stuff in your history. Yeah. All of that’s gonna come up when we tell you to make a yes basket of food. Absolutely. And, and so it’s like those three things combined I think that make TBRI® so powerful, understanding the why, knowing what to do about it, and then understanding our own piece of the puzzle and how to work through that so that we can implement TBRI® truly. Yeah, absolutely. I’m so glad you brought that up cuz I do think that is, I mean, and I, you hear that a lot with people where they’re like, like you said it, we like to shift the focus to someone else. So you’ll be like, okay, I, you know, and I’m an adoptive parent.

My child has had, you know, dealt with really difficult things before they came into our lives and you know, and, and that’s the, the problem that we need to solve. But it’s really hard for people to look at themselves, to look at their own families. Like, and just because I mean, it doesn’t mean you ha you had a quote unquote, you know, bad childhood or your parents were not great parents. It’s just like being a person in the world. We experience things that leave marks on us, you know? And if you’re not willing to deal with your own things, you’re never really gonna, what, what’s the saying? You can’t can’t lead a child to play if heal say it, what is it? Yeah. You can’t lead a child to places of healing if you haven’t walked the road yourself. Yes. And this idea that, and I think even in that saying, which Dr. Purvis used to say all the time and I think is so beautiful, I think there’s even an idea of that saying that implies that you’ve already walked that road. And I think that’s even idealistic for many of us. We’re walking it with our children. Like we’re on this journey together and it turns out maybe I haven’t gotten there yet, but I’m willing to go with you.

And that requires a level of humility that maybe for us growing up wasn’t modeled in our caregivers and therefore seems strange for us to model to the children that we give care to. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Well thank you for explaining that. I think that’s so important. So shifting gears a little bit, because this is how I got to know you. How did you get involved with AGCI? Yeah, so when I, at the institute on the outreach team, which I work in, we each have a caseload of organizations that we consult with. And so AGCI is one of the organizations that is on my caseload that I consulted for for many years and have supported your work from a, the standpoint of, from the KPICD of how can we help you to implement TBRI® and the ways that you want to as an organization. And then I will add from a personal standpoint, not from my KPICD hat, I would say that AGCI is one of the most amazing organizations I’ve ever been involved in or understood at a deep level.

And so was very, very honored when I was asked to be a part of the board and to be able to sit in and learn even from a different perspective, all of the amazing things and work that AGCI is doing well and we’re so grateful you’re on the board cuz you obviously bring such a unique perspective and have just such an incredible, incredible knowledge base. So yeah, we’re glad, we’re very glad you’re here and that, you know, in addition to all your work that you’re doing with KPICD that you, that you made time for this too. No, it’s, it’s a true honor and I absolutely love it. So you kind of started to talk about this a little bit, but I would love for you to go a little deeper. AGCI has kind of a unique partnership with the institute. Can you kind of explain how that works and, and how our role with them is a little bit different than some other organizations? Yeah, so AGCI is an ambassador organization for the KPICD and there are only currently eight ambassador organizations across the globe. So it’s a huge deal, it’s a really big honor. And the ambassador organization process came about when Dr. Karen Purvis was passing and we would ask her, you know, as, as a team, like what, what can we do?

How can we carry this work forward? She would say to us, all of the children and families in the world need access to this. And many times Dr. Cross, her co-founder, you know, would say to her like, what about the children and families in Texas? And like she would say, no, all of the children and families across the globe. And so after her passing, we took that really seriously and said as a team, cuz we’re a small team, like there’s less than 30 of us at the KPICD and less than 15 of us are on outreach, which that’s the team that takes this globally. And so we said like, how do we, how do we do that? Yeah. It’s a big ask. Yeah, yeah. What, what, how are we going to say yes to her? Like of her final ask. And so Dr. Cross came up with this idea that we wanna create, you know, 25 ambassador organizations in 25 states and countries by 2025. And that was kind of our first big, like, here’s how we’re gonna begin to eat this elephant. Yeah. And so we then said, okay, well what is an ambassador organization? Like, what is that and what does that mean?

And and so we just began to think about like we look at creating an ambassador organization almost like getting married where like we are saying like we represent one another in, in any place, in any room that we go into. And so we really, I mean we literally, we have practitioners in, in different organizations in every single state in the United States. Wow. And we’re on every single continent. There are over 8,000 practitioners globally, which represents around 6,000 organizations. So it wasn’t, can we do this right? Because we could easily say, oh, yep, here we go, here’s our our and just check it off. But that’s not what we wanted to do. We wanted to say like, who are the organizations that we wanna come close to and really be in deep relationship with? And their wins are our wins and their losses are our losses and vice versa. Yeah. And how do we find those organizations and support those organizations and a deep way. And so we’ve spent the past six years really kind of focusing in on those relationships with those organizations. And AGCI is one of those organizations and I just wanna say about AGCI, which I know you didn’t ask me, but I think that AGCI is the best organization I’ve ever come across globally at living out the gospel. You all move in ways that are incredibly powerful and favored and yet unencumbered.

And that happens because of the long lasting relationships and trust that you have built in these countries. And you’re super wise and thoughtful in how you do your work. And so when you get into work, it’s deep work and it meets a unique need of a people group, of a country, of a, of a sector where you’re going in and truly saying, how can we serve? Versus Hey, we’re here to fix everything and let us, you know, and I have watched for six years now very closely your organization truly find out what the needs are and this is the heart of TBRI®. Like we have a mantra and the first line is like, see the need, meet the need. If not you, then who? And I feel like AGCI does that over and over and over again at a systemic level where you’re going into countries and saying like, where is there a gap? How, like what do you need? How can we empower you? What would it look like for us to just serve and very, very humbly coming alongside of other organizations, other governments, other whoever it might be without your name being involved, without your, and truly supporting like this beautiful work. And I, I feel like everyone at ag, every employee I’ve ever met is like my friend. You guys are full of beautiful people who like are passionate about your work.

And it is, it’s amazing. Well, thank you for saying that. That’s so, so kind and I really appreciate it. And I just have to say that the reason that that’s possible is because of our incredible in-country partners and the teams that we have, you know, built over the years and they have and like trusting them and watching them and and getting to understand the need through them and not through our lens has been just, I mean, that’s the only way that’s possible because there we can’t know everything and we can’t, you know, ex And also as you said, it’s not the best idea maybe to go into a country that you don’t, you know, you didn’t grow up in. You don’t, you know, you don’t know and tell people this is how it’s gonna be. And so we really, really rely on, on our, our team members who, you know, that’s their home country. This is their life, they’re living every day and they’ll tell us, Hey, this is what we need, this is how you can help us. And then we really try to, to do that. So yeah. Anyway, it would’ve been helpful. Exactly. Yeah, that’s exactly what I mean. Like, I meet weekly with your in-country teams on the ground in multiple countries and like you all have as an organization and empowered people on the ground who have long, long histories of supporting them. And it’s just beautiful to watch.

And like I do, I have like family in Columbia and Ethiopia, like I feel like I could travel anywhere that AGCI is and you’re in-country teams. Like, they’re like, I went to brunch with grandma kid. Like, you know, like I am a part of the family, you know? And, and that is so cool. That speaks to like that deep relational work, which is how you make long-term systemic change. And so it’s just beautiful to watch. Yeah. Well thank you. And it, it is really exciting to, to watch it all happen. So we’ve, weve talked kind of like the macro, I’d love to kind of go to the micro like what are some of the impacts that you’ve personally seen through the implementation of TBRI®? Because I think it’s so important for people to like hear those individual stories because that’s how we kind of all understand things I think on a deeper level and the impact that’s possible. Yeah, I mean I came to, I became a believer of TBRI® because as foster parents we used it in our home. And so I watched over and over and over again, you know, we had 17 different children come and go of all ages from our home and I watched them heal and find their voices and become beautiful examples to what it means to like truly thrive.

And so I would say like I bought in because of that and seeing, you know, some of the impacts of TBRI®. But then in my work it’s basically the, my favorite thing I get to do is just hear all these stories of how TBRI® is deeply impacting not only individuals but systems and things like that. So in the past month, you know, I’ve seen like there’s a jail, there’s actually many, many, many jails now for teenagers in the United States who are beginning to implement TBRI® or are eight years down the road in their implementation journeys. And to see not only the kids who are served in those facilities, but also the adults who serve at those facilities to go through their own processes of understanding TBRI®, implementing TBRI® and then their own journeys of healing Yeah. Has been absolutely amazing. And so in facilities that are deeply implementing TBRI®, we are seeing like suicide attempts drop to basically nothing in most of these facilities, which would be a very normal daily occurrence in many of these facilities.

For those who aren’t familiar with our juvenile justice system, unfortunately one of the things that happens is when kids are put into a facility and they like get into a fight or assault a staff or you know, have some other sort of behavior within the facility, oftentimes it adds time to their time being served. Yeah. And so for many of the kids who are in juvenile facilities and initially were not going to ever be then transferred to adult prisons, by the time they’ve served their time, they end up getting lots more time and therefore end up transferring to adult facilities. And what we’ve seen is as we’ve empowered kids and staff to understand how to regulate, to understand how to create environments of regulation, you know, all of those types of things, we have seen those extra, I’m trying not to use all the language that they use, but extra time added on has drastically been reduced. And to me, like I can’t say that without getting emotional. Yeah. Because that’s babies who aren’t going to adult prisons. Yeah. That’s babies who are being empowered. Even if they weren’t before they entered into that facility, now they are. And to hear not only kids, but parents say, I’m so grateful for this jail because you taught my child this. You gave us these tools, you enabled us to have our child come home and be successful.

The fact that our jails are now serving kids and families and helping them to heal is something that to me I’m really like, I’m like that’s it. Like that that is, there’s nothing better than us flipping that system. And I would like to do a lot more flipping to be clear, but like, but the, you know, like for kids to find healing in jail, who would’ve thought that that would ever be possible? Yeah. And then the other thing like within the past month I went to, we have an adult male and female, both sides of the jail. They’re doing TBRI® training for the inmates and they have, I just went to graduation and I wanna say 26 men graduated from a six month course in TBRI®. Wow. And it was the most powerful experience I’ve ever had. And I was there for like the first couple weeks and then I was able to go back for graduation and just to see their hunger for this information, to hear their stories. Every man in there was one of the kids that we’re serving. And so to hear, I mean they said over and over and over again, if I had this information, I wouldn’t be here. If my parents have had had had this information, I wouldn’t have gone through X, Y, or Z. And so Wow. To, to watch these men.

And then like they’re training, like they’re calling it like TBRI® to the streets and like they’re taking it out and going to barber shops and mechanic shops and, and having like groups and talking about things as men in the community and creating these healing environments. Wow. They talk about, you know, the one, the one one of the moms actually I was talking to, she said, you know, on a video call, her daughter had gotten suspended for something at school and her daughter called her and they were doing their video visit and her daughter told her like, I got suspended today, here’s what I did. And the mom took a deep breath and she said, why do you think that you did that sweetheart and her daughter like leaned in and was like, mom, are you sick? Do you have covid? She was blown away that her mom was responding to her bad choice and a new way. Right. And it created a new pattern and then her mom was able to like connect with her about like, do you think it was this or this? And you know, they ended up having like this really beautiful in-depth talk about her daughter missing her when she’s incarcerated. Yeah. And dealing with that by using substances rather than talking about it rather than seeking deep relationships rather.

And you know, so then the mom talked about like, here’s how that pattern ruined my life and here’s what I’ve learned and here’s what I hope you can learn. And, and like there are literally hundreds of those stories every week up from this one jail that they’re doing this in and I just can’t get over it. Yeah. So we have that we’re seeing like systemic change in countries across the globe to reduce the number of kids and institution in institutional care, but also for those kids where that’s an appropriate level of care currently to elevate that care and to empower those caregivers. Many of us know that the caregivers and institutions across the globe are oftentimes kids who maybe even grew up in that exact same institution. And so when we give the gift of TBRI® to an institution and say, take this and make it your own and learn and you know, we say you have everything you need. Here’s, you know, it’s unbelievable to see how not just the kids in care are finding healing and hope, but the adults, the caregivers, the leadership are finding that healing and hope. And to hear caregivers talk about this has helped me with my own chil, you know, I didn’t know that I was supposed to be doing this and this and this as a mom.

And so now to understand that and to do that, I’ve seen drastic changes in my relationship with my own children, let alone all the things that we’re doing here at work and how that’s changing the landscape of this institution. And then another like specific example I would say is we have recently, I would say in the past three years, seen this huge kind of increase in courts beginning to really deeply understand TBRI® and begin to implement it. And so from that kind of movement we’ve seen a huge, not only community response, but a change in the way that judges are looking at things the way that das are looking at things. And it’s just been beautiful. We recently, you know, had a, a judge and he used to be known for having like the highest rate of incarceration in the country. Wow. A juvenile judge. Wow. And basically like his thing was like, I’ll teach them by like, you know, if you steal a candy bar, you go to jail for three days. You know, like, and so he was very purposefully trying to teach lessons to kids. Right. He wasn’t like, he didn’t care, he thought they were bad, you know, he was doing what he thought was right. And so he had, sorry, he had this high level of incarceration, the highest to be specific.

And once he began to learn about trauma and its effect on children’s development, on their brains, on their choices, on their ability to process verbal information. Right. Like as soon as he began to become trauma informed, he went beyond that and said, well then this has to change how I respond to the kids who show up in my courtroom. Yeah. And so he has literally thousands of stories of ways that rather than incarcerating kids rather than, you know, kind of doing that shock therapy type of thing, he has begun to empower families and empower parents to meet the needs of their kids. And it’s been amazing to see these families and these communities come to healing through a juvenile court setting. Right. Something that historically has not been a place No. That is kind or understands most of the people in it. Wow. Thank you for sharing that. I was getting teary just hearing your stories cuz it’s just like the impact is just exponential.

I mean it just like, it it, it’s kind of not measurable because it’s like you have those populations in a jail, in, in an institution setting that you’re like working with directly and maybe measuring the impact of, but then what you aren’t even able to capture but is have, is like changing the world I think is the impact like you said like on the staff members, on the parents on the friends of those, you know, kids when they go out into the world and they move through the world in the, in a different way when they share, you know, their own experience when their parents tell their, their sister, their grandparents, their, their friends. Like hey, this really worked. And like it just those little like ripples, I mean it’s just, it kind of blows my mind. Yeah. Anyway, you’re changing, you’re changing the world. It’s really cool. It does. It’s, we often say like, especially like when we’re working with teenagers, like our job is to give them everything they need to go out into the world and be successful and make wise choices. And sometimes what that means is the ability to, I would say most of the time what that means is the ability to self-regulate. Yeah. And so like we talk about, you know, you said like it’s not measurable.

I couldn’t agree more because it’s like how many of the kids in that jail, you know, will return to all the same things Right. That they left Yes. Before and, but if they then have the ability to take a deep breath and maybe not pull the trigger or maybe not throw the punch or maybe walk out the door instead of hitting someone or Right. Yeah. Like if, if we give them the ability to self-regulate, we will never be able to count the ways that that has changed their lives as well as anyone else’s. And we can say that for all of us. Right? Yeah. Not just the kid in jail. Yeah. But literally that for me as a mom, to be able to have the ability to take a deep breath and not say what I was about to say to my teenager who just mouth off to me Yeah. Changes our relational trajectory in a way that can’t be measured. And so I, I can’t agree more that it’s so powerful and yet we can’t even begin to wrap our arms around the breadth of the change. Yeah. Wow. Well on that note, thinking ahead, what excites you about the future of TBRI® and the impact? I think what excites me is that we have these amazing ambassador orgs and that or that list is growing and therefore we’re reaching more people. Right.

So like six years ago with AGCI did we think maybe TBRI® might be helpful in Ethiopia. Sure. But we didn’t know, you know, now like, and now we have like this huge movement happening through your work and we could say that for all eight organizations currently, and we have probably six in the pipeline and like there are so many organizations who are taking this, I wanna say like this calling seriously and that we wanna bring hope and healing and the only way to do that is through relationships. And therefore the idea of relationally changing the whole world. Is it possible by one group of people, right? Yes. Yeah. Absolutely. It requires all of us. It requires community, it requires, you know, empowerment. And that is exciting to me to know that TBRI® will never live in the ivory tower of TCU. That Yeah. TBRI® only lives and only exists in the people across the globe cuz that is TBRI®. Yeah. And that just makes me think of what you said earlier about how the, the men who were like leaving prison who had learned TBRI and had understanding of that and as you said, were taking TBRI® to the streets and you know, going into their community and like that’s where it needs to be. That’s what needs to be happening.

And that’s what I think is so like beautiful about TBRI® is that it was always intended to be that way. Like cuz it could, it could so easily be just like this kind of lofty theoretical thing that’s only talked about like in academic circles. But that’s not what it is. It’s about the everyday person, you know, who doesn’t, they don’t need to have, you don’t need to have a college degree, you don’t need to have, you don’t need, you just need to be a person and open like your heart to it and, and then you can be a part of it. And I just think that’s like the most beautiful and exciting thing about it, the whole thing to me. I agree. And I love that you said that’s what it was always intended to be. It’s a caregiver model, it’s made for people who give care, which hopefully is all of us, right? Yes. Yeah. In some way we are giving care to another human being or animal in our life and therefore you are qualified and in fact you have to do it like the guys who are taking this to the barbershop, I can’t show up and teach attachment at the barbershop. They do not wanna hear from me. No. Right. Like, and like even like the week they taught attachment, you know, what they talked about was their first girlfriends Really? Yeah.

And then they went from there and like, oh, well she reminded me of my mom in this way, or she reminded me of my grandma, or she was the opposite of mine. Right. And like, and then they tied it into attachment styles and all these things that I never would’ve known to do that in that setting. Right. Like I would’ve been like, let me show you this graph of the hormones in our bodies around attachment. You know, like, and they would’ve all been like, who is this lady? This is born? So like that’s our jobs is to empower people, give them the information and then let them make it their own and let them take it to their people because we can’t, we can’t do that for all the people. Yeah, absolutely. I love that. I love just like making it relevant to the community that you’re in and that’s why it’s so important to have people already within those communities that have the information that can Yeah. Just make it accessible. So that’s, that’s amazing. What else is important for people to know? I think like the biggest message I hope people know is that there’s hope. That there’s hope in your own journey and your own healing. There’s hope for the kids that you love and care for or want to care for in the future. There’s hope for them. There’s also hope for us, right?

Like for us as a community, for us, like I, there are so oftentimes when I get overwhelmed with doubt of like all these organizations are wasting money or all these organizations are saying they’re helping and it’s just about numbers or all the, you know? Yeah. And I lose hope and then I’m reminded like there are unbelievable organizations like AGCI who are doing deep, deep work and are making massive changes in generations. And there are communities who are coming around this and coming together and beginning to understand the impact of historical trauma and beginning to understand how that plays out today and beginning to create communities that are safe. And I don’t just mean there’s the low crime rate. I mean it’s like safe to be a human and to be a kid and to grow up in those communities. Yeah. We all need to be reminded of that and be filled with hope because otherwise the world reminds us of all the other stuff going on. And I think that’s the best part of what I get to do is I’m constantly reminded of all of the amazing people and amazing communities that are filled with hope for one another and for our children. Absolutely. Well that’s a beautiful note to end on. Thank you so much Amanda.

As always, I just love getting to hear your passion and your heart and you just make, you know, complex things, very easy to understand and accessible and I just, I can’t thank you enough for the work you’re doing in the world and the lives you’re changing. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. It was amazing. Thank you. It’s an always an honor. And you guys know AGCI. Amazing. Thank you.

That was Amanda Purvis, a consultant with the Karen Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University. Thanks for listening to Together by AGCI. As always, if you liked what you heard, please rate or review us wherever you listen to podcasts. If you’d like to read or watch even more stories, check out our website, Reach out to us and let us know what you think on Instagram @allgodschildreninternational or email us at We look forward to sharing another story of hope the next time we’re together. We’ll talk to you soon.