The Complex Trauma Resources Team

Our CTR Clinical Team is ​dedicated to helping to change the lives of children and youth through application of principles arising from an understanding of complex developmental trauma. Our staff comes from the fields of psychology, social work, and counselling. We provide education, training, and clinical services and are based near Vancouver, British Columbia. Our CTR team is particularly interested in supporting caregivers in their all-important relationships with troubled children and youth. Our senior staff offers consultation on system-wide assessment and intervention with children in the residential care and foster care systems, and within the adoptive community. 

CTR Focuses on Helping Children Recover from Complex Trauma

Complex trauma refers to the cumulative toll that experiences such as neglect, emotional abuse, physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, persistently unsafe situations, or attachment disruptions and insecurity take on children. The experiences of many children are filled with such a burden from these stresses and relational losses that their development has been broadly compromised. Complex trauma can lead to a range of social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties which are hard for parents to manage. They can also lead to challenges in many other areas related to the nervous system and basic physiology. The difficulties these children experience are often labelled with a variety of mental health and medical diagnoses.

There are far too many children like this around us in our communities, our country, and the world. CTR’s immediate focus is on kids in foster care and adoption; however, many similarities may be seen in children from international adoptions, refugees, homeless lifestyles, and the children of mentally-ill or substance-abusing parents. CTR specializes in finding child-specific solutions for care teams, parents, and caregivers. CTR provides system-wide planning and intervention tools for child welfare and mental health services to help these children heal and grow.

Our Approach

The CTR Clinical Team has developed a cutting-edge approach to the effects of Complex Trauma in children and youth. It is our belief that the most important therapeutic experiences a child can receive are in the main attachment relationships in their lives.  So we dedicate ourselves to build the knowledge and skills for caregivers — parents, foster parents, and adoptive parents.  All of our approaches are geared to giving caregivers simple and practical strategies that address the core needs of their child at a physical, emotional, and relational level. All strategies are created following a thorough Functional Developmental Assessment of the child’s strengths and weaknesses.

Our interventions focus on:

  1. Decreasing Stress and Hyperarousal
  2. Deepening Healthy Attachment
  3. Developing Emotional Literacy, and
  4. Focusing on the Child’s Successes.

Complex Trauma Resources Team

Clinical Director

Dr. Chuck Geddes, R. Psych

Dr. Chuck Geddes has worked extensively in the fields of Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare over the past 15 years, serving in various clinical roles including supervision of staff and interns. He completed his PhD at Colorado State University and MA at California State University, Fullerton. Dr. Geddes became interested in the role of complex trauma in children’s neurological development through the work of The Child Trauma Academy, Dan Siegel and others. He developed the Complex Care and Intervention (CCI) program as a way to embed a trauma-focused therapeutic perspective into the care of children in the foster system. Dr. Geddes provides education and training to social workers, foster parents, and mental health clinicians across the province of British Columbia. Helping adoptive parents who adopt children from traumatic backgrounds is another area of growing interest. Chuck and his wife have three sons of college age, one of whom has special needs. In his spare time Chuck will often be found hiking, biking, or playing old-timer hockey.

Interest in complex trauma:

I love how the last 10 years of developmental brain science has shed light on what we once saw as absolutely intractable problems in children. I get excited to see a team of caregivers around a child begin to understand trauma principles, apply them in a creative fashion, and rejoice as they see children and youth respond, grow, and heal.

Training Director

Dr. Kirk Austin, RCC

Dr. Kirk Austin is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who completed his B.A. in Psychology at Trinity Western University prior to completing his M.A (Liberty University) and Doctoral degrees (University of South Africa) in the field of psychology. Dr. Austin served as the Clinical Director of an award winning human resource management company prior to joining Complex Trauma Resources (CTR) in 2012. He has taught numerous undergraduate and graduate level psychology courses at Lower Mainland universities in British Columbia, has provided clinical supervision to MA level counselling students, and has published several peer reviewed research articles. Dr. Austin is actively involved in the development of CTR training materials, and trains therapists throughout British Columbia in the effective use of the CCI model. He is a registered member of the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors, Vocational Rehabilitation Association of Canada and Canadian Center for Applied Research in Cancer Control.

CCI Trainers and Mentors

Brenda Dragt, M.S.W.

Brenda completed her undergraduate and graduate training at Dordt College and California State University, Fresno. Over the past 20 years she has worked in various trauma related clinical roles within the BC government system, notably developing a suicide prevention program and providing sexual abuse therapy and community education.  Brenda joined the CCI team in 2012 providing input on training development. She travels extensively throughout BC providing training, supervision and mentoring on CCI cases. Brenda and her husband have 4 children in middle, high school and college. She is active in providing training for leaders of girls programs and crisis line programs and also trains educational personnel in the areas of communication, self-harm, suicide and grief and loss.

Interest in complex trauma:

Brenda’s interest in complex trauma began though her experience in working with children and families. Acknowledging that trauma has a unique impact on the development of children, Brenda has become interested in the training of care teams about the nature of trauma and how to intervene in the lives of children towards lasting positive change.

Fred Chou, M.A., CCC

Fred is a new addition to the CTR team, coming highly recommended from previous mental health supervisors. Fred recently completed an MA in Counselling Psychology (TWU) and is currently and is currently a PhD student in Educational Psychology at the University of British Columbia. Fred is a prolific author on psychological topics, with his most recent citation being: Buchanan, M. J., Bennett, A., & Chou, F. (in press). Working in the field of traumatic stress: A review of evidence-based interventions. In N. Gazzola, M. Buchanan, O. Sutherland, & S. Nuttgens (Eds). The Canadian Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy. Ottawa: CCPA Press. Fred brings a keen interest in collaborative processes to his work with CTR. When not studying, working, or writing, Fred loves exploring restaurants and coffee shops, guitar and drawing.

Interest in complex trauma:

I am interested in working in the area of complex trauma because I want to see children and youth flourish. I believe systems often perpetuate trauma for these individuals. By working with care teams to address complex trauma, it enables caregivers and service providers to tap into the innate adaptive capacities that all children and youth have.

Sheila Guenard, B.S.W.

Sheila adds a lifetime of experience with BC’s Ministry of Children and Family Development to her role with CTR. She’s worked as a social worker, a Resource and Permanency Team Leader, and as a Senior Policy Analyst. Sheila combines her knowledge and facilitation skills with a unique ability to keep the “long view”, not panic, and keep finding what is working for a youth. Sheila’s role with CTR is as a mentor to coaches implementing the CCI program in the Okanagan area of BC. Her “other life” consists of lots of hiking, snowshoeing, kayaking, travelling (combined with hiking whenever possible), gardening and quilting.

Interest in complex trauma:

I have always searched for new, helpful information and ideas on how we can support children better throughout their growing years and been interested in “what works”. I was privileged to be a part of CCI in the Okanagan while I was working for MCFD and loved the work and the results. CCI is a way to put into practice, all of the principles of positive child care we’ve come to understand and the structure of the process enhances and builds the team around a child. Experiencing the changes in children’s lives and those who care for them makes this work entirely rewarding.

Dr. Chipo McNichols, RCC

Chipo joined the CTR team recently after many years as an Aboriginal Child and Youth Mental Health clinician. Chipo is currently enrolled in a PhD program at Antioch University in Seattle. Her dissertation interest is in finding effective ways to employ the complex trauma perspective within Aboriginal communities. Chipo brings a wealth of experience in Aboriginal communities and a deep respect for the challenges of healing and growth. Chipo serves CTR as a CCI coach and mentor for other coaches. Chipo says that she loves cooking, reading, and boxing! She is originally from Zambia. She and her husband have 3 children between the ages of 15 and 21.

Interest in complex trauma:

I’ve been drawn to the growing knowledge around neurodevelopment because of my personal experience of having a family member with compromised brain development and working with populations that have experienced generational traumas. Witnessing the continued transfer of trauma within Aboriginal communities drives my desire to be part of finding ways to create a new experience that is not defined by historical trauma.

Lila Weber, M.S.W., R.S.W.

For twenty years Lila has worked in both private and public organizations serving families and children with disabilities, child and family crisis management, and child protection services – both in the USA and Canada.  For the last ten years Lila was on staff with a Delegated Aboriginal Agency holding numerous positions including frontline child protection work and in senior management.  Currently she is a counselor for a non-profit counselling agency in Abbotsford, a sessional instructor in the Social Work Program at the University of the Fraser Valley and co-facilitates an educational/support group for women in violent relationships.  She graduated with an MSW from the University of Fraser Valley focusing in mental health and working with those in trauma.

When she’s not working she loves to laugh with others, go on hikes, sing, read and make a good dinner while listening to jazz music.  She’s been married for 28 years and has three young adult children.

Interest in complex trauma:

I’m interested in how trauma impacts children and youth — body, mind and spirit. Working alongside Aboriginal peoples’ for the past ten years has heightened my awareness and deepened my belief in taking a holistic approach to healing.  The CCI model aligns well with the holistic approach to healing where focus is not only the mind, but the body and the spirit of children and youth.

The ability to work within a team gives me great hope and sheds light to new stories being created for children and youth who have experienced trauma.  I am honored to be part of the CTR team.

If you are looking for a Psychology clinic that specializes in complex post traumatic stress disorder, turn to Complex Trauma Resources. To schedule an appointment, get in touch by visiting our Contact page.

Background photos copyright Andreas Krappweis