Treatment Approach

. . .

Shodair Children’s Hospital emphasizes comprehensive biopsychosocial evaluations, child-centered family therapy, and collaboration with parents, community providers, and educators. Shodair Children’s Hospital is currently becoming a trauma-informed facility through the Sanctuary Model.

What qualities characterize a certified Sanctuary Model organization?

A sanctuary program should be a strong, resilient, structured, tolerant, caring, knowledge-seeking, creative, innovative, cohesive, and nonviolent community where staff are thriving, people trust each other to do the right thing, and clients are making progress in their own recovery within the context of a truly safe and connected community.

People recognize that safety and comfort are not necessarily the same thing – we need to have safe and nonviolent conflict, but that often means we have to be uncomfortable with the process of change.

Tangible results of a sanctuary community include decreased staff turnover, decreased use of coercive measures, decreased critical incidents, staff injuries, and client injuries, greater client and staff satisfaction, and more innovative problem-solving.


Such a community is sufficiently knowledgeable that it fully recognizes the ever-present possibility of violence and therefore constantly attends to protecting its social immune system against the spread of violence in any form – physical, psychological, social, or moral.

Human feelings, motivations, and behavior are complex and not always easy to understand. We are affected by conscious and unconscious forces that we do not fully understand, especially by our own emotions, so that in a sanctuary community, everyone is expected to become proficient at managing their own emotions.

A sanctuary community uses knowledge already attained and is gaining new knowledge all the time in the context of social learning.

In such a community, communication is open, direct, and honest and people trust that they will find out information that they need to make good decisions.

Members of a sanctuary community are curious about human behavior and do not assume that everyone is motivated or learns in the same way. They are accustomed to listening deeply and to being heard by others.

If someone feels their trust has been betrayed, they are willing to give the other person the benefit of the doubt and find out what happened rather than leap to the worst conclusions.

Because the heart of sanctuary is community, people in a sanctuary environment are encouraged and supported in their individual striving but are also expected to maintain an active concern for the “common good” even when that may mean putting aside one’s own individual needs.

Within this community, members recognize the importance of democratic decision-making and shared responsibility in problem-solving and conflict resolution, all of which serves to minimize abuses of power and enables an organization to deal more competently with the challenges of complexity in the world around us.

Every effort is made to include anyone affected by a decision in the decision-making process and, as a result, people feel free to dissent, to raise troubling concerns, and to support consensus agreements even when they may not fully agree themselves.

A sanctuary community is able to have safe and useful conflict as a means of learning and growing. Conflicts are seen as a resource and are generally well-managed with emotional intelligence and open communication.

Everyone in a sanctuary community recognizes that “hurt people hurt people” and therefore creating and sustaining a just environment is vital to everyone’s safety and well-being.

In full recognition of the vulnerability to loss that everyone experiences, a sanctuary community honors individual and group losses, while using a vision of the future to prevent stagnation and to promote continued development.

Ultimately, people who come into a sanctuary community – everyone seeking services as well as the people who work there – are offered an opportunity to have corrective emotional, relational, and environmental experiences.

Click here to learn more about the Sanctuary Model.