Our Engagement Model

Within our emergency shelter, Raphael House incorporates a number of best practices into our unique survivor Engagement Model. Using Trauma-Informed Care as the foundation, along with Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Assertive Engagement as the methods, our many programs collaborate seamlessly to provide wraparound supports for all families engaged in our services. Combined, these strengths-based approaches create a foundation of hope, and encourage long-term safety and stability.

Trauma-informed care

The main principles of Trauma-Informed Care are:

  • Understanding trauma and its impact
  • Promoting safety (both physical and emotional)
  • Ensuring cultural competence
  • Supporting participant control, choice, and autonomy
  • Sharing power and governance
  • Integrating care
  • Recognizing that healing happens through relationships
  • Believing that recovery is possible

At Raphael House, we have incorporated this trauma-informed philosophy into our day-to-day work and policies in ways that include:

  • Trauma education and training for all staff
  • Hiring, management, and supervision practices
  • Recognition of vicarious trauma and the appropriate care of staff
  • Advocacy within the agency and with partner agencies/systems
  • Ongoing inclusion of participant voice

We understand that the survivors we serve often feel overwhelmed and hopeless about the future. Trauma-Informed Care is central to our work in helping survivors overcome these challenges, and this guides us to collaborate with survivors through engagement in planning of their own engagement.

Equally important in a trauma-informed agency is the awareness of how working closely with survivors impacts all people working at the agency.  We prioritize taking care of ourselves and each other in order to be most effective in supporting the individuals and families we serve.

“Trauma-informed organizations, programs, and services are based on an understanding of the vulnerabilities or triggers of trauma survivors that traditional service delivery approaches may exacerbate, so that these services and programs can be more supportive and avoid re-traumatization.”
– Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Assertive Engagement

Our strengths-based empowerment philosophy of advocacy aligns closely with Assertive Engagement, an approach to helping relationships based on research into human behavior and what promotes positive behavior change.

Assertive Engagement is principled in basic human kindness and connection. Program spaces, methods of greeting people, welcoming environments, warm smiling faces, and tone of voice have research-proven impacts on the success of services.

Engaging survivors in developing their personal goals through Assertive Engagement has improved both shelter and post-shelter outcomes. This model of engagement allows families to develop trust in Raphael House resources and support because much of the supportive programming takes place in the same building as the shelter. With this familiarity, survivors continue to engage with the Advocacy Center after leaving shelter, which provides them full access to long-term advocacy, resources, social service system navigation, and a supportive community.

Positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS)

Family relationships can be strained by domestic violence, and the consequences can last a lifetime. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study found that children who are exposed to domestic violence experience similar long-term health issues as seen in adult survivors, including anxiety, compromised immune systems, and negative impacts on coping and resilience.

Childhood exposure to violence has been linked to many poor outcomes, but with the right supports there is potential for hope and healing. We recognize that the majority of people served in our space are young children, and we provide social and emotional learning opportunities as well as supporting staff and volunteers to be comfortable working with kids. Youth Program staff work with parents to identify family strengths and needs, and to enhance parenting skills, build support systems, encourage resiliency, and increase family attachment.

Raphael House of Portland staff have implemented the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) protocol into our emergency shelter and across all programs. PBIS is an evidence-based framework for teaching and reinforcing prosocial behavior and preventing and responding to negative, unfriendly, or unsafe behaviors.

In shelter, PBIS provides us with a standard framework of support for parents to build ways of engaging with their children. PBIS naturally integrates with Trauma-Informed Care, meaning our advocates consider the children and family as a whole when working with adult survivors. Incorporating trauma informed insights into this model supports children’s healing and builds on parent strengths as they reclaim and redefine their parenting and family culture in the wake of trauma.

PBIS focuses on making sure that all staff at Raphael House are equipped with the skills to build positive and nurturing relationships with youth, providing supportive and family-friendly physical environments within our space, and creating opportunities for social-emotional learning in an effort to help everyone feel safe and successful.



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