Trainer Spotlight: Dr. Heidi Morgan

For Dr. Heidi Morgan, trauma-informed care is a family affair! She and her husband, Sunder, are the owners of Essential Behavioral Support, Inc. (EBSI) in Morgan Hill, CA. EBSI, which Dr. Morgan call our “big little agency,” has seven Ukeru trainers. In this interview with Dr. Morgan, you can tell her optimistic nature permeates throughout her work:

Q: How long have you been an Ukeru trainer?

A: I have been an Ukeru trainer since June 2019. My husband, Sunder Morgan, and I launched a new agency – EBSI. We have 100 staff (and still growing), and are lucky to be part of an agency with a team of leader-trainers.

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

A: As a behavior analyst, I have worked with individuals of all ages. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead EBSI, which supports adults with developmental disabilities who have severe behavioral challenges. We specialize in settings, called “Enhanced Behavioral Support Homes” in California, which are new, cutting edge models of multi-disciplinary support.

I have been passionate about the field for nearly 29 years. It’s hard to believe that it’s been my life’s mission for this long! My husband and I are inspired by the opportunity to provide evidence-based support in trauma-informed ways. At Team EBSI, our mission, culture and values statement surround our passion. This is driven by the desire to help individuals achieve their life’s goals – something Team EBSI has been able to replicate time and time again.

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

A: If I’m being honest, I adore the slides and content. I love sharing how trauma affects the brain, and can literally paralyze our speech centers. I love the optimism that Ukeru leaves users with. We no longer use our bodies to receive; we have Ukeru blocking pads for this. I appreciate that Grafton keeps a finger on the pulse of the literature and updates training materials often. For this reason, I feel most proud when I have those slides up.

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

A: Let me tell you, my physical coordination has never been the best. We reserve the right to be uneasy or unsure about using Ukeru. The cool thing is that our “big little agency” has not one or two but SEVEN Ukeru trainers. When unsure, I recommend doing as we do – cross train, model for each other, and practice often.

If one is unsure about using Ukeru initially, I recommend speaking to other trainers or users. If someone called me, I would tell them about the benefits for BOTH staff and individuals. We get to touch less, reduce risk for initial or re-traumatization, and respect each other’s space. We have fewer special incidents, injuries (including worker’s comp injuries). We feel less alone with Ukeru in the room than at baseline.

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

A: Practice often. During the pandemic, we trained on the physical part less often than at baseline. While the slides and written content came right back to me, I needed more practice to regain the physical skills.

Secondly, I recommend offering trainees the ENTIRE Ukeru curriculum again every year. They deserve the opportunity to stay safe, and this is a great way to accomplish that.

Finally, Ukeru is one of the only agencies that provides video demonstrations for trainers. These videos should be reviewed often so that treatment integrity remains high.

Q: How has Ukeru impacted your life?

A: Team EBSI has had the opportunity to support individuals that have extensive behavioral histories. In months, we have been able to accomplish what more restrictive settings took years to accomplish. This is not a criticism; it’s a celebration of what we can do with the right supports in place. Our success requires the presence of Ukeru in all things Team EBSI.

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

A: I have a lot of them. Here’s one for today:

“Kindness can transform someone’s dark moment with a blaze of light. You’ll never know how much your caring matters. Make a difference for another today.” ― Amy Leigh Mercree, author

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

A: Safe, effective, essential.