Dr. Jessica Rodriguez, CEO of Gatgeway Corp in Sacramento, dedicated to the treatment of mental health and addiction disorders.

Dr. Jessica Rodriguez, CEO of Gateway Corp and OnSite Strategies in Roseville – focused on family systems treatment for addiction and behavioral health issues.

Without disparaging the innovative benefits of cyber technology, it is fair to say that today’s tech-savvy youth are exposed to levels of hostility (these adult issues of bullying, addictions and sexual exploitation) with greater intensity than pre-internet generations. And recent insights in brain and behavioral health science teaches us that hostility, if unchecked,  spreads in family and community relationships like a bad computer virus from one heart and mind to another – starting in the womb – with serious health consequences.

Last Wednesday Dr. Jessica Rodriguez, CEO of OnSite Strategies, delivered a training on the connection between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and mental health and behavior disorders, to counselors and therapists at the Women’s Association for Addiction Treatment in Sacramento. “I have come to appreciate that behavioral health concerns, like addiction and depression, are better understood from the standpoint of a public health model,” she said. “The biggest factor that contributes to mental and behavioral health issues in our society is a general lack of quality relationships in our lives.”

According to Rodriguez, ACEs offers insight about the connection between very early childhood trauma experiences (as early as in the womb) and the development of the young brain that explains the origin of behavior that is risky, abusive, hostile, or anti-social. “When we understand that bad behavior is actually trauma expressing itself, then we can go to the core relational wounds of the affected individual,” Rodriguez said, citing the presentation by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris in her Ted talk on “How childhood trauma affects the health across a lifetime.” One of the most compelling findings of this research is that early childhood traumas is more common and transcends all social and economic boundaries, and it is linked to mental health disorders, addictions, coronary disease and cancer.

Rodriguez explains that early childhood trauma (such as abuse, neglect, and parent addictions) can impact the development of a young child’s brain to favor use of the lower parts of the brain (amygdala) that emphasize fear-based, fight or flight, responses to adversity, and inhibit the development of the upper parts of the brain (pre-frontal cortex) that facilitate quality thinking and decision-making. For many people these traumas originated in their own family relationships starting in utero. “ACEs [conditions the brain in such a way that it] makes it difficult to stay in the window of tolerance,” she said, explaining that the window of tolerance, is the power of the mind through the upper parts of the brain to be in the present (not reliving the past), and to patrol thoughts with self-soothing, calming impact, and to regulate the [fear] emotion and the body. (Her source: M. Dezelic, 2013).

I find this science to be enlightening because our children are navigating a world that hypes everything good and not good: emotions are high in our cyber-powered worlds which can be incredibly hostile (think cyberbullying). And, when children have been exposed to significant traumas early and as these memories stored in the lower brain continue to replay in their subconscious mind, they do not necessarily know why they are acting in an anti-social way (hitting, bullying, self-mutilation, drug abuse). In this way, I perceive cyber connectivity as intensifying ACEs.

Science of forgiveness. When we understand forgiveness as letting go and put this concept into the context of brain science, it makes sense to me that our brains are designed to function as a fault-tolerant balancing tool, to tame fear-based impulses with sound reasoning enabled by the intellectual capacity of the upper part of the brain. Citing her own personal experiences with ACEs, including surviving getting shot in the heart, and still living with the bullet in her, Rodriguez expressed her faith that every individual is endowed with the spirit of power and love and sound mind that cannot be taken – it is always present. So what I gleaned from Rodriguez’ talk is that this God-given power of intellect and free will is the capacity within every person to recognize that these traumas are a past event replaying as if it is a current event and therefore have no power in the present moment unless a person chooses to agree with it. Rodriguez further cautions that navigating this inner world of past traumas should not be thought of as a casual experience and it is important to seek out professionals well trained in this field of psychotherapy to get help.

Read more about Dr. Jessica Rodriguez’ ACEs


“To err is human, to forgive divine.” – Alexander Pope

So for parents, this is where, in my own mind, I see how brain science further illustrates the strategic value of our God-given capacity for forgiveness. While we do not have control over what has happened to our children in the past, nor can we control how our children respond to adversity today, we do have control over our own heart and mind and defining the culture of our homes which can reflect the mindset of a warzone or a sanctuary – starting today, in this and every moment. This spiritual and intellectual resilience of our own mind is the hope to overcome adversity.

If you suspect that you or your child are dealing with ACEs, contact Joanna to obtain a list of counseling resources.

More about creating your own family culture: Fresh Start

Purchase your 2017 Edition of Fresh Start and create a family culture of faith and hope.

Purchase your 2017 Edition of Fresh Start and create a family culture of faith and hope.


Core Connectivity Symposium

2017 Spring Core Connectivity Symposium

Forgiveness – A Strategy for Strengthening Family Relations

  • Sat. April 29, 2017, 8:30am sign in/9am to 1:30 pm
  • Lunch included
  • Venue Sponsor: Parkside Church in Auburn
  • 3885 Richardson Dr, Auburn, CA 95602
  • More details forthcoming. To request a registration link, contact Joanna.


About:  We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. Our mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your donations are greatly appreciated. (Donations are payable to Banana Moments Foundation).

Joanna Jullien, Founder & CEO of Core Connectivity Photo by: Victoria Hatch

Joanna Jullien, Founder & CEO of Core Connectivity
Photo by: Victoria Hatch

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and consultant on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber-powered world. She is a former technology executive trained in behavioral science at U.C. Berkeley, a mother of two grown sons, and an author of books for practical guidance on parenting, growing up and family life in the network culture. As a family and technology culture advisor, Joanna has appeared on 103.9FM The Fish, 710AM Keeping Faith in America, 1380AM The Answer, and Examiner.com.