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Debi Grebenik, Ph.D., LCSW, is the director of a Colorado Child Placement Agency that specializes in trauma work in their foster care program as well as their community and clinical programs.

She is a part-time professor in a Master’s of Social Work program and also maintains a small private practice for failing adoptions or families with acute trauma histories.

She loves to bake, run, read, and play with her 7 grandchildren.

The Quote

Trauma happened in the context of relationship can only be healed within the context of relationship.

What Led to the Specialization of Trauma?

Debi shares the story of growing up with divorced parents and how her younger siblings became severely impacted and struggled. This experience led her to want to connect with people and learn about helping those who’d been hurt and were in pain. Debi then began work in the juvenile justice system and it was there that she came to the realization that words were the least effective things we can use.

A Crucial Early Mistake

Debi shares an amazing and inspiring story about when she was a green clinician and began working with a young Hispanic male. I walked in there and was going to fix him, she says. Debi thought she had all the answers and didn’t listen as well as she could have. She missed opportunities and used words rather than working on building relationships and trust. The one thing she did do, however, was to continue showing up.

Debi’s Why

I am in this because I see my role as a coach and a teacher and love it when people get that aha moment and then can go back with a client and create that healing healing relationship.

Debi’s advice

  • Get good supervision. It’s key!
  • Read widely, not just trauma literature.
  • Get a mentor to help you professionally as well as personally.
  • Watch people and be curious about what they’re doing, about how they’re being.

Debi’s go-to books

Interview Links

Monique Funk
Elaine Miller-Karas, LCSW

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