The Science of Healing

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study provides scientific research that indicates a strong correlation between unhealed childhood trauma and unhealthy adult outcomes. SET designs programming, informed by this work, to interrupt this cycle of harm and improve the quality of life for people in Milwaukee.

The ACE study proved that adverse childhood experiences are vastly more common than anyone knew. In addition, the more adverse childhood experiences reported, the more likely a person was to develop heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, skeletal fractures, and liver disease as an adult.

The majority of human suffering in our community is connected directly to Adverse Childhood Experiences, the ten worst things that can happen to a child.

For Milwaukee, the cumulative effect of unhealed ACEs has been cycles of poverty, low graduation rates and a feeling of hopelessness.

The greater the number of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), the greater likelihood of health issues and dysfunction as an adult, based on Centers for Disease Control studies.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
Household Dysfunction
1. Mother Treated Violently
2. Household Substance Abuse
3. Untreated Household Mental Illness
4. Parental Separation or Divorce
5. Incarcerated Household Member
6. Emotional Abuse
7. Physical Abuse
8. Sexual Abuse
9. Physical Neglect
10. Emotional Neglect

Living in a dysfunctional family can be just as damaging to a child as neglect or abuse. ACEs and ACE clusters (3 or more) are much more prevalent among people living in poverty.

Impact of interrupted brain development.  

Like abuse and neglect, household dysfunction without intervention does create chronic stress and can lead to trauma. These interrupt a person’s brain development and interfere with the person’s ability to learn to make decisions, solve problems and regulate emotions.


Childhood trauma, if not healed, creates a stress circuit that releases too much adrenaline as a child chronically perceives threat. The long-term effect of releasing stress-related adrenaline is an unhealthy biochemical cycle between emotions and behavior. This cycle grows stronger and stronger, eventually causing overreactions to comparatively minor threats.

At SET we are determined to disrupt this cycle of harm. Our philosophy combines scientific research with compassion. We bring about healing through a process known as trauma-informed care, so people can discover their capabilities and redefine what life can be.


Copyright 2017. SET Ministry, Inc. All rights reserved.
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