The Moore Center is proud to have skilled and dedicated staff such as Ellen Moran, Greg Steelman and Brian Malbon who are presenting at the Massachusetts Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (MATSA) conference in April. The conference is about preventing sexual violence through assessment, treatment and safe management.

“Our system focuses more on the behavioral aspects of trauma rather than looking at the root cause, which is not always helpful or preventative, especially for those with intellectual disabilities” said Steelman. He added, “Challenges with communication and supports make the treatment of individuals with intellectual disabilities and problematic sexual behavior complex. Evidence based treatments, which show great outcomes for reducing future problematic behavior, must be adapted to suit the very unique presentations of each individual client.”

The number of human service professionals with in-depth knowledge on this topic is small, and Ellen, Greg and Brian are a minority group of presenters whose one-hour presentation will focus on how trauma and treatment differ for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID). 

Trauma informed care has been identified as a best practice in providing treatment and services across the board in the human service field. People with intellectual disabilities experience higher rates of childhood trauma, as a group, than non-disabled individuals. They also tend to receive less treatment and support when they have been identified as experiencing trauma. This underlying trauma is often a significant factor in the person’s problematic behavior. Trauma is able to be treated using a variety of therapeutic modalities. 

According to Malbon, “There are two key elements that set The Moore Center apart in our treatment plans for individuals with a problematic sexual behavior or other behavior. One is the use of evidence-based trauma treatments, such as Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR), and the other is Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA).”

EMDR is one of the best researched treatments for trauma being used today and is approved by organizations such as the Veterans Administration and the World Health Organization. It is based on the theory that traumatic experiences that cause extreme fright and feelings of helplessness are “remembered” in specific reactive parts of the brain for the purpose of protecting the person, via, the “fight or flight” response from similar experiences in the future. EMDR, using various techniques including bilateral brain stimulation, allow the brain to process these past events and store them in memory centers not associated with the “fight or flight” response. Clients treated with EMDR still remember past events but feel much less anxious, afraid and otherwise triggered by them.

According to Ellen Moran, “COSA was created in the 1980’s as a resource for sexual offenders coming out of prison with no supportive relationships and no one to hold them accountable. We have adapted this model for use with teams in the Intellectual Disability system to help the individual be accountable for their actions within a supportive team atmosphere. Effective COSA groups create a linkage between the therapist and the team for the purpose of supporting the individual in working towards a good life.”

This program has been very effective in reducing problematic behavior and allows individuals to make their own decisions about their lives and treatment. The Moore Center uses this model with its staff to create teams for high risk individuals and has seen a lot of success with the 10+ individuals they’ve used the COSA model with.

Ellen, Greg and Brian are pioneers in this area of the field and look forward to sharing the success of The Moore Center’s trauma specific treatment with other disability professionals, with the hope if inspiring more of this valuable treatment in other agencies around the area. Thank you to Ellen, Greg and Brian for your valuable work and services to help clients create opportunities for a good life!

For more information on MATSA’s Preventing Sexual Violence conference, click here.