for direct care staff serving youth

Uniquely designed to help staff build the essential and often complex social and emotional regulation skills required to actively manage how they respond to youths’ traumatic stress reactions and challenging behavior.


EQ2 is an interactive training and support program for direct care staff working with youth at risk. It fills a critical gap in building trauma informed communities.

What does EQ2 mean?
EQ2 refers to the combined emotional intelligence of staff and the youth they serve. Research shows that the relationships youth create with caregiving adults hold enormous potential for healing and transformation. Yet, unless the adults engaging in these moment to moment, day to day interactions possess the self regulation and relational skills required to nurture safety and promote growth, creating truly trauma sensitive environments is unlikely. EQ2 is uniquely designed to help staff build the essential and often complex social and emotional regulation skills required to actively manage how they respond to youths’ traumatic stress reactions and challenging behavior.

Studies suggest that many direct care staff come to these roles having experienced greater rates of early childhood adversity than the general population. While this adversity builds staff commitment to serve, it also increases their vulnerability to secondary traumatic stress. Traditional approaches of providing “one off” training is not enough to build staffs’ foundational self-management skills and buffer them from burnout. Only through consistent opportunities for training and support can agencies equip staff with the resources they need to avoid the retraumatization of themselves and the youth in their care.

EQ2 supports staff working with trauma-impacted youth to:

  • Understand their own triggers
  • Build self-regulation skills in response to triggers
  • Learn strategies to effectively co-regulate with youth
  • Understand how trauma impacts youth behavior and the stress response system
  • Model and transmit effective social and emotional skills to youth
  • Build more attuned and reparative relationships with youth
  • Explore healthy boundaries in the workplace
  • Manage the stress and conflict that often arise between staff when working with high need populations
  • Increase staff understanding of trauma’s impact on youth’s behavior and development
  • Build listening skills and under responding techniques to deescalate crisis
  • Develop resiliency practices that help reduce burnout, secondary traumatic stress, and turnovers

Learn more about how EQ2 serves direct care staff.

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Who It helps

Most agencies spend considerable energy and resources equipping youth with the social and emotional skills they need to lead productive lives. Yet often little is allocated toward empowering staff with the skills at the heart of their roles as caretakers, mentors, and coaches. EQ2 was developed after years of hearing youth in Power Source groups ask why we kept asking them to take a deep breath and change their thoughts in response to triggers but we didn’t ask the same of staff. By equipping both youth and staff with these life altering social and emotional skills, an upward spiral of trauma sensitive practices is launched. EQ2 can be used to support staff in:

  • Residential treatment centers and facilities
  • Community based programs
  • Group homes
  • Teen parenting programs
  • Inpatient and partial hospitalization settings
  • Mentoring programs

Secure and non-secure detention

Lionheart offers an adapted version of EQ2 for staff working in a detention setting. Please contact The Lionheart Foundation if you are a juvenile justice center interested in implementing EQ2.

Why It Works

EQ2 blends a number of highly effective approaches to foster staff growth and change. Circles, derived from restorative practices, provide staff with ongoing opportunities for support and the felt experience of being heard. Circles also allow the transmission of knowledge from the experts already in the room. Mindfulness based practices “lengthen staff’s fuses” by increasing their self-awareness and distress tolerance. Cognitive behavioral approaches build adaptive responses to triggers, reducing reactivity to highly charged emotional events.

Program Resources

EQ2 is not your typical staff training and support program. And that’s because EQ2 is designed to redress two training trends that undermine sustainability and lasting change. The first involves programs that require high levels of training expertise from someone within the organization. Once that facilitator leaves, the knowledge leaves too, creating a void that agencies are left scrambling to fill. Second is when programs require an outside agency to provide in person training. This means every time there is a new cohort of staff, a trainer needs to return, creating considerable expense and dependence on outside organizations. EQ2 provides all of the content and support trainers in your agency will need to implement the program successfully. Plus, there are no limits to the number of people in your agency who have access to the training materials and resources.

EQ2 groups can be run by anyone within an agency, including direct care staff, with a commitment to learning basic trauma informed practices and the willingness to engage in the short online training program, and an understanding of the challenges staff serving trauma impacted youth face.

The EQ2 annual subscription includes a variety of multimodal learning resources.

Included with the EQ2 Subscription


The EQ2 handbook supports participants with learning the material

Facilitator Guide

The Facilitator Guide provides effective approaches to covering the topic.

Support Materials

Supportive materials to help build trauma-sensitive environments

Online Training

All individuals serving as facilitators have access to The EQ2 Online Learning Program

The EQ2 App

All staff at each subscribing agency have access to the EQ2 App

Explore EQ2 Subscription Plans

EQ2 is purchased as an annual subscription. To make EQ2 economically accessible to all agencies interested in implementing the program, our subscription fees are tiered, based on your organization’s annual operating budget.


Research and ongoing program evaluation are critical components of ensuring that our resources are not only effective, but are revised to incorporate the growing body of knowledge in the fields of social and emotional learning, trauma, and effective treatment delivery.