Toddler girl in child occupational therapy session doing

Understanding the SITCAP® Model: A Guide to Trauma and Resilience

Key Points:
    • Brain science supports the efficacy of Starr’s Clinical Foundations of Trauma and Resilience and SITCAP® model in addressing trauma and fostering resilience.
    • The SITCAP® model is accessible to various professionals, not just licensed mental health practitioners, facilitating wider implementation.
    • Research highlights trauma as a public health crisis but identifies protective factors and interventions that can mitigate its impact.

Sensory Interventions: Key to Trauma and Resilience

Research on the impact of toxic stress, trauma, and resilience continues to support the core principles and components of Starr’s Clinical Foundations of Trauma and Resilience certification and Structured Sensory Interventions (SITCAP) model, reinforcing its practice-based evidence status. Childhood resilience research, the polyvagal theory, breakthroughs in the study of epigenetics, insights from the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACEs) direct practice with at-risk and traumatized youth in various settings, feedback from Certified Trauma and Resilience Specialists using the SITCAP® model programs, and the significance of mind-body skills for emotional awareness and regulation continue to inform and shape our many SITCAP® model programs and interventions.

Research and Community Needs

Plentiful research supports the connection between trauma, toxic stress, and negative implications for emotional, behavioral, academic, and physical health. One out of every four children experiencing trauma and even more living with circumstances of toxic stress, such as food insecurity, affirms trauma as a public health crisis. The coronavirus pandemic further exacerbated the situation, affecting children, parents, and caregivers worldwide. In 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a National Emergency in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, a concern also recognized by the Children’s Hospital Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the Biden Administration. However, research on protective factors promoting resilience offers hope that practitioners can facilitate healing in challenging situations.

The Need for Practical Interventions

Given the significant shortage of licensed mental health practitioners to meet the mental health needs of children and adults, every child-caring adult must have access to effective, short-term intervention tools to address trauma and build resilience. The SITCAP® model programs and intervention tools provide a viable solution. Starr’s Trauma and Resilience Specialist certifications are recommended for all wishing to use and implement the SITCAP® model program and interventions, aiding a broader range of professionals and families in need.

Program Availability and Implementation

SITCAP® model programs and interventions are now accessible for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, elementary, middle, and high school children, and their parents and caregivers. These interventions, practical for use in individual and group settings, are easy to learn. All programs and interventions are manualized and scripted, ensuring higher practice fidelity and supporting implementation and evaluation.

Professional Development Opportunities

Clinical Foundations of Trauma and Resilience offers an in-depth review of trauma’s impact on the brain and nervous system, including the polyvagal theory and the science of resilience. It provides a comprehensive look at the SITCAP® model’s core principles, components, and case examples of implementation, encouraging professionals to become Certified Trauma and Resilience Specialists and deepen their understanding of trauma’s impact on children along with gaining practical tools for support.

Ready to enhance your skills in trauma-informed care? Become a Certified Trauma and Resilience Specialist to deepen your understanding of trauma’s impact on children and gain practical tools for effective support. Our certification equips professionals like social workers, therapists, healthcare providers, and others working with children to broaden their expertise in trauma-informed practices.


Briggs, E. C., Amaya-Jackson, L., Putnam, K. T., & Putnam, F. W. (2021). All adverse childhood experiences are not equal: The contribution of synergy to adverse childhood experience scores. American Psychologist76(2), 243.

Masten, A. S., Narayan, A. J., & Wright, M. O. D. (2023). Resilience processes in development: Multisystem integration emerging from four waves of research. In Handbook of Resilience in Children (pp. 19-46). Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Panchal, U., Salazar de Pablo, G., Franco, M., Moreno, C., Parellada, M., Arango, C., & Fusar-Poli, P. (2023). The impact of COVID-19 lockdown on child and adolescent mental health: systematic review. European child & adolescent psychiatry32(7), 1151-1177.

Phillips, L., & Tucker, S. (2023). A closer look at the mental health provider shortage. Counseling Today.

Richards, M. C., Benson, N. M., Kozloff, N., & Franklin, M. S. (2024). Remodeling broken systems: addressing the national emergency in child and adolescent mental health. Psychiatric Services75(3), 291-293.

Soma, C., Sloan, J., Garipey, S., Mueller, G., Gerlach, R., Sanders-Cobb, H., & Mason, D. (2021). STARR: Sensory-based trauma assessment and intervention to restore resilience. Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy20 (3), 277-289.

Steele, W., & Kuban, C. (2010). Structured sensory trauma interventions. Reclaiming Children and Youth18(4), 29.

Steele, W., & Kuban, C. (2013). Working with grieving and traumatized children and adolescents: Discovering what matters most through evidence-based, sensory interventions. John Wiley & Sons.

Steele, W., & Raider, M. (2001). Structured sensory intervention for traumatized children, adolescents, and parents: Strategies to alleviate trauma (Vol. 1). Edwin Mellen Press.

Transform Your Clinical Practice: Master Trauma-Informed Care with Starr Commonwealth’s Certified Trauma and Resilience Specialist Certification

Are you ready to advance your expertise in trauma-informed care with a Certified Trauma and Resilience Specialist certification from Starr Commonwealth? Dr. Caelan Soma answers all your questions about Starr’s new Clinical Foundations for Trauma and Resilience packages below.

About Dr. Soma

Dr. Caelan Soma, PsyD, LMSW, Chief Clinical Officer, oversees all clinical operations and research at Starr Commonwealth. Dr. Soma provides trauma assessment and trauma-informed, resilience-focused intervention for youth utilizing evidence-based practices, including Starr’s SITCAP© model programs.

She has been involved in helping with the aftermath of disasters such as Sandy Hook, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and others. She has authored several books, the most recent, 10 Steps to Create a Trauma-Informed Resilient School and Healing the Experience of Trauma: A Path to Resilience. She is an internationally acclaimed speaker and trainer, and is the instructor for many Starr courses, including Clinical Foundations of Trauma and Resilience. She received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at California Southern University, where she received the 2013 CalSouthern President’s Award.

What are the new clinical packages?
The new clinical certification is called Clinical Foundations for Trauma and Resilience. The packages combine didactic and experiential training, focusing on trauma and resilience in children and adolescents. Every package includes comprehensive training with lecture-style videos and opportunities for participants to practice what they learn; demonstrations of interventions are included. Case examples are also shared.  The packages differ only in the number of resources each includes.

Who is this certification for?
This certification is for any adult who works with children who have experienced too much stress or trauma. All adults, licensed and non-licensed professionals, can benefit from this certification. You will benefit from this training if you are a social worker, counselor, therapist, psychologist, youth care specialist, child life specialist, nurse, pastor, corrections officer, occupational therapist, or speech pathologist. The interventions taught in this training can be implemented in brief interactions or within traditional groups or individual therapy sessions. Interventions apply across all settings regardless of the type of trauma a child has experienced, from one specific event to complex trauma such as maltreatment.

What will they learn?
First, participants learn the importance of resilience. This is a critical component in establishing a strength-based mindset rooted in hope that supports the fact that stress and trauma do not seal a child’s fate. Stress and trauma are only one part of a child, and we can do many things as adults to help children experience interactions and activities that will build and strengthen their resilience while assisting them in managing the symptoms and reactions they experience.

Participants will learn the common themes experienced with trauma and alternate themes supporting resilience. The focus is on not just how a child feels psychologically but also how they feel physically. Interventions to use immediately will help get to the root of how stress and trauma impact a youth’s nervous system. Resilience-building strategies offer professionals strategies for children to have experiences that reinforce connection and a sense of belonging, emotional regulation, value, and self-esteem.

Every package includes strategies and interventions. Participants will receive everything they need to begin working with youth immediately after training. With hundreds of interventions and reproducible worksheets, professionals don’t have to wonder what to do with youth who need relief from stress and opportunities to feel empowered – they will have many tools at their fingertips.

What types of resources are included?
Each of the clinical certification packages includes a variety of excellent resources. All packages include a textbook, activities packet, trauma education booklets, and a behavior support plan complete with 3 assessment tools and strategies to foster and nurture resilience while healing trauma.

How is it different from other certifications?
This certification differs from others because it doesn’t stop at theory – it goes far beyond. It provides practical, easy-to-implement, evidence-based interventions for children of all ages across all settings. Many interventions rely solely on talk or cognitive processes. However, the sensory-based interventions provided in this certification have been designed to be used with children who are operating from a place of stress and terror. The interventions help regulate their nervous systems, help them find the words to explain their experiences, make youth active participants in their healing, and provide new ways of looking at themselves as empowered and survivors rather than victims. This certification will restore self-efficacy in child-caring professionals, providing them with agency and hope that their work with youth makes a difference regardless of how traumatic the experience.

Starr’s Clinical Foundations of Trauma and Resilience is not just a certification; it’s a gateway to becoming part of a legacy that has shaped the field of trauma-informed care. With over 110 years of experience, Starr empowers you to make a lasting difference in the lives of those you serve. Start your journey today!

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