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Trauma-Informed Advocacy & Messaging (CTIPP CAN January 2023)

This month’s CTIPP CAN call featured an engaging discussion on how the trauma-informed movement can grow and improve their advocacy as the new 118th Congress convenes.

CTIPP's Whitney Marris helped participants assess their advocacy strengths, and Jen Curt recapped messaging guidance from Iowa ACEs 360 and discussed the art of policy persuasion. Breakout rooms discussed and shared how they 1) defined successful advocacy, 2) self-assessed their advocacy wins and goals, and 3) practiced crafting persuasive messaging.


For those who want to implement take these exercises back to their respective teams, here’s a summary of the questions we explored:

  • What does being a successful advocate look like to you at an individual level?

    • If anyone discusses broader successes, redirect the conversation to identify how those outcomes occurred because of individuals joining together.

    • If anyone focuses on outcomes, follow up with, “what would you, as an individual, be doing to help the organization achieve that outcome?” (E.G., calling your elected representatives, monitoring the news, or amplifying objectives on social media)

  • Based on how you defined “success” above, where are you on a scale from 1-10?

    • If anyone says 1, thank them for their honesty, and then orientate towards noticing strengths, hopes, and they are doing. Follow-up questions could include:

      • “What challenges/barriers to successful advocacy have you encountered?”

      • “Even if you have not yet reached what you think of as success, it says a lot that you’re here participating in this conversation today. I wonder: what gives you the hope and motivation to show up for this conversation?”

    • If anyone says 10, thank them, and ask them to consider what would keep them there? What were the steps they took to get there that could be replicated or shared with others?

  • What are you doing that lets you know you’re not one number lower on the scale?

    • NOTE: This question helps people focus on strengths rather than first identifying what they aren’t doing. This helps frame the process orientation on helping them expand what is already working well. Consider also asking:

      • “What steps have you taken that have felt meaningful to get you to that number?”

      • "What strengths do you have that helped you in getting there?”

  • What needs to happen for you to move yourself one number higher on the scale?

    • NOTE: If there is confusion or no response, consider asking:

      • “What gets in the way of you reaching the next number on the scale?” followed by, “What actions would it take to remove those barriers?”

      • “How will you know when you are being more successful? What will you be doing, and what is needed to help you do it?”

      • “Based on what you know about you, what are some action steps that could bring you closer to what you defined as being a ‘successful’ advocate?”

And for anyone who wants to utilize a more trauma-informed approach when facilitating important discussions, please refer to our new guide with principles, concepts, and real-life examples and talking points.



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