What is Trauma Informed Care?

Updated: Dec 19, 2018

Trauma informed care has four key operational goals:

It recognizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery.

It recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff and others involved in the system.

It responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices.

It seeks to actively resist re-traumatization.

Trauma informed care holds these six principles to meet the operational goals:

Safety: As my client, your safety is paramount. I focus on your safety first and foremost and maintain that safety as a foundational piece, over the course of our relationship together.

Trustworthiness and transparency: Many survivors of trauma, especially trauma within interpersonal relationships such as child abuse or domestic violence, have endured years of emotional manipulation, lies and shame. Trusting others seems impossible. We learn together that difficulties with trust are a consequence of their trauma. We take it slowly and I maintain transparency to help clients learn how to begin to trust again. I hold your hand as you walk this path and we do this together.

Peer support: As we progress through sessions, and clients are getting stronger in their sense of self separate from their traumas and subsequent negative beliefs, we may look at utilizing peer support groups, both online and possibly in person. This helps us to know that we aren't alone.

Collaboration and mutuality: Trauma informed care utilizes a team approach to treating survivors. The clients needs are evaluated holistically, because rarely does one form of treatment resolve PTSD. Clients often need a collaboration of methods, such as talk therapy, EMDR and art or music therapy. Equally as important, trauma informed systems recognize the survivor as a valid and valuable member of their treatment team. It helps to empower survivors to learn how to use the tools we discuss, self-soothe and gain measure by morsel, confidence in their recovery.

Empowerment, voice and choice: Trauma informed care recognizes that survivors had very little voice or control during their trauma. Trauma strips away a survivor's belief that they are powerful and their needs are valid and they matter! Appropriate treatment restores their ability to choose, values their voice and empowers them to build a life where they have a sense of self less mired in shame and pain.

Cultural, Historical & Gender Issues: Trauma informed care is not a cookie cutter approach. It recognizes that different cultures, genders and personal histories color each survivors experience. It actively seeks to understand a survivor's experience and incorporate their individual needs into treatment.

The four operational goals and six principles of Trauma Informed Care have been set forth by the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. For more information on where to go for immediate help, please click on Resources

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