Trainer Spotlight: Cory Merfeld

Q: How long have you been an Ukeru trainer?

A: I am entering into my second year as an Ukeru trainer and this will be our organization’s third full year of Ukeru implementation.

Q: What population do you work with? What inspired you to get into this field? 

A: I work with students aged 5-18 with moderate to severe cognitive, developmental, emotional, and other health impairments. I got into this line of work largely by chance. Seven years ago, I was looking for a change in careers and started out as a paraprofessional at WoodsEdge Learning Center. Before this time I never saw myself working in special education but it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this line of work. I found my knack in working with students who use challenging and aggressive behaviors and helping those folks find new ways to get those needs met. I worked my way on to the behavior team here at WoodsEdge and am now heading into my fourth year as a behavior tech and I absolutely love what I do!

Q: What part of Ukeru do you enjoy teaching the most and why?  

A: My favorite part of Ukeru to teach are the parts on the prevalence of trauma amongst individuals we serve and how trauma changes the brain. I believe these sections really highlight the importance of universal precautions when it comes to trauma informed practices and really help in the mind and culture shift that must happen in order for Ukeru to be most effective.

Q: What would you say to someone who is unsure about using Ukeru? 

A: Give it time and be creative. It is normal to be unsure about new things but I am confident that with time you will see how much safer every day life can be for staff and service users. Collaborate with your teams and find creative solutions to any unique scenarios that will arise. Ukeru is here to help!

Q: What advice or tip would you give to a new Ukeru trainer? 

A: Take your time. Make sure the people you are training fully understand the concepts behind the Ukeru system. Never forget that we are using Ukeru all the time and not just when we’re doing pad work.

Q: How has Ukeru impacted your life? 

A: Ukeru has been so incredibly beneficial to not only my professional career but my personal life. I feel more empowered to handle crisis situations in the safest ways possible and I can feel good going home each day knowing that my approach resisted retraumatization and helped to maintain relationships.

Q: What is your favorite quote or a motto that you like to live by? 

A: Imagine people complexly.

Q: What three words would you use to describe Ukeru?

A: Safer, Effective, Empowering