Trauma-informed Facilitation Skills for Dialogues on Racism and Other Oppressions

March 18, 2017 9:00 am - 5:00 pm


Columbia School of Social Work, 1255 Amsterdam Ave., New York 10027

Event Organizer

Office of Professional Excellence

6.5 contact hours are available for NYS, NJ and CT Licensed Social Workers

$250 single; $200 each for 5 or more

Alumni will receive a $50 discount. Please email for the promotional code. Your email should contain your name and the year you graduated.

*Open to the public



This one-day workshop presents current theories related to engaging students and community in critical dialogues regarding racism, other oppressions, and intersecting oppressions. We will explore the importance of “trauma-informed” practices to facilitate these dialogues. The “trauma-informed” framework takes into account the transgenerational and ongoing nature of oppression and how it impacts the oppressed neurophysiologically, in both body and mind.

In this workshop, we will survey best practices that are emerging from the expansion of anti-oppression work to not only improve our work in the classroom, but in our practices, agencies, and in our lives—wherever we happen to be.

Workshop Description

The workshop is highly experiential with the primary means of interaction intentional dialoguing and use of collaborative, self-reflexive and somatic activities. Through teaching, experiencing and practicing facilitation skills within small groups, the workshop will engage participants to apply critical race theory; evidence-based, trauma-informed practice strategies; and principles of transformative education in all settings. Also included will be a presentation of theories of white fragility, and a discussion specifically regarding white identity development as it relates to challenges in facilitation of multi-racial classroom and training groups.

Learning Objectives

Participants will learn to:

  • Experiential activities and approaches to facilitating reflective processes regarding race/racism and other intersecting oppressions.
  • Strategies to increase group cohesion and develop mutual aid using an Affinity Group model for cross-racial dialoguing.
  • Mindfulness- and somatic-focused exercises to support understanding and application of a trauma-informed practice.

And to:

  • Develop a personalized tool kit for their future facilitation and teaching of topics related to racism and other intersecting oppressions.
  • Engage in a self-reflexive process to learn how facilitator/educator/practitioner identities impact and inform group process.



Amelia Ortega, LMSW serves as a Faculty member at the Columbia University School of Social Work, Simmons College School of Social Work, as a Research Advisor for Smith College School of social work and as a trauma focused feminist psychotherapist in NYC. Ortega graduated from the Columbia School of Social Work in 2007 and has served as a clinician within supportive housing for young adults aging out of Foster Care, as a school based social worker and has organized structural change work to address homophobia in NYC public schools.

As a Professor, Ortega has developed courses that engage Masters level students in collaborative experiential explorations of institutionalized oppression and the history and ethical principle of Social Justice within Social Work Practice. Professor Ortega sees her role in social work education as an opportunity to build collective consciousness about identity, power and liberation labor. Additionally Ortega offers training and consultations within higher education for faculty and students regarding Anti-Racist pedagogy, trauma informed classrooms, and collaborative online teaching strategies. Ortega lives in Philadelphia with her partner and tiny teacup Chihuahua named Diesal. Outside of work she is often learning her way around Philly, weaving, making jewelry and birdwatching.

Katherine Roubos, MSW earned a Masters in Social Work through Smith College School for Social Work and received a BA with honors from Stanford University. Their master’s thesis, titled “Cultivating Resilience: Antidotes to White Fragility in Racial Justice Education,” inspires her ongoing development of curriculum that integrates somatic tools, playfulness, and trauma-informed pedagogy to address Whiteness and White privilege in academic, community and agency settings.

As a clinician, Roubos integrates mindfulness, somatic awareness skills, a sense of humor, and anti-oppression focused narrative therapy frameworks to provide trauma-informed psychotherapy for adults and adolescents. Roubos teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction courses at Kaiser Permanente and offers trauma-informed, embodied mindfulness instruction for groups and organizations in the SF bay area.

As a student/community organizer, Katherine worked closely with a multi-racial group of Smith Social Work students to highlight systemic racism at Smith, demand administrative and pedagogical changes to hold the school accountable to its anti-racism commitment, galvanized a strong student base of support, and collaborated with administrative leadership to implement tangible changes. Along with a few White peers, Roubos instigated a sharp increase in the engagement of White students in anti-racism efforts on campus by forming the White Accountability Group, with the aim of connecting personal unlearning racism process with collective and accountable (to student leadership of color) action by White students at Smith.

Roubos has lived in the SF bay area since 2003 and currently resides in Oakland where they collaborate with the White Noise Collective to work toward racial justice at the intersection of gender oppression and White privilege, engage in collective actions against racist police violence and gentrification through the Bay Area Solidarity Action Team (BASAT), and advocate for racial justice in their spiritual community through the East Bay Meditation Center. They believe in the importance of playfulness and community in sustaining justice movements; they are frequently found dancing, backpacking, and making mediocre art for fun.