HEARTS is a non-profit, mental health, Consumer-Run Organization (CRO) offering classes for the prevention and intervention of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) for adults. These classes are designed with an educational and experiential approach which uses a non-traditional alternative format. All classes are led by peer survivors of trauma.
Adult survivors of childhood traumatic stress are usually asked, “What is wrong with you?” rather than “What happened to you?” This often leads the person to falsely believe that they might have signs of a mental illness and may think about counseling or therapy. Sometimes this approach only creates more confusion as it may 'label' a person with some problem that needs to be 'fixed'. Other times, the person may feel extreme shame, fear, or anger which overwhelms any support of understanding.
Childhood is usually a time associated with innocence, hope, and a promise for the future. This is not always the case. For those who experienced trauma instead HEARTS offers hope. This is done in the context of a safe environment and with the care of loving and understanding peers. The leaders demonstrate clear interpersonal boundaries. CRO Members at HEARTS build a level of trust by learning their own stories of survival and sharing their unique dignity in a confidential framework to new participants. This role supports a victim to change the meaning of the pain from childhood experiences into a powerful story that affects their lives and the community.