Trainer Spotlight: Valerie Allen

Q: How long have you been an Ukeru trainer?

A: I have been an Ukeru trainer going on five years now! 

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

A: I currently work in a Head Start and Early Head Start setting serving children from birth to five. I work with teachers, family advocates, managers, and clinicians. Before that, when I started as an Ukeru trainer I worked in Residential Treatment with adolescents with Autism and developmental delays. I have always loved working with kids and have spent my career working with children in some capacity. 

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

A: I love teaching the trauma aspects and the brain science portions. I feel like this is so important for everyone to understand but especially people who work in helping professions. It’s also so fascinating to me so I get really passionate about it. 

I also love training the skills portions though. I feel like this is a time when I really start to build relationships with those I am teaching. During this portion I’m asking people to be pretty vulnerable (getting all up in each other’s personal space and practicing skills that may be uncomfortable at first) and I find that using humor and some degree of levity helps people feel more comfortable and confident. I really see connections being made during this portion of the training!

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

A: Just give it a try. At the very least, you’re adding a new tool for your toolkit and who doesn’t love that. But I can tell you from my personal experience, having trained Ukeru at two different agencies, with two very different populations, and seen it in action….it really works! Not just the physical skills and blocking techniques (which are game changers!) but the mind shift that comes from trauma-informed care and practice. So for anyone who is unsure… just give it a try. I don’t think you will regret it.  

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

A: It sounds cliche but really just be yourself! Know your material but also add your personal flair and your personal experiences to the training, where applicable. Real life stories and examples can help people connect to the material on a deeper level. And engage with your audience! Ask questions and give people time to respond. At my current agency we practice the 12 second rule… after you ask a question count to 12 to give people time to process and respond before you move on. You may be surprised how long it can feel and also how many people have a response at 11 seconds.  

Q: How has Ukeru impacted your life? 

A: I feel like Ukeru has allowed me to connect with people I may not have otherwise connected with in unique and meaningful ways. I also feel that Ukeru has helped us as an agency to provide better overall quality of care by equipping our staff with a strong foundation and skills based in trauma-informed care. 

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

A: One of my favorite quotes and mottos to live by is “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” 

I’m also a big fan of the quote (and find it especially relevant when doing trauma trainings), “When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce.” 

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

A: Transformative, Impactful, Genuine