It is nearly impossible for an individual to not experience some level of trauma within his or her life. While there are many people who are able to work through their trauma without professional help, there are some who are unable to do that. For these individuals, the trauma they have experienced caused significant psychological effects that have gone on to permeate throughout all areas of their lives. Some of the most common causes of trauma include the following:
- Domestic violence
- Natural disaster
- Severe illness or injury
- Death of a loved one
Other traumatic events can include witnessing a violent act, combat, bullying, neglect, abandonment, community violence, and terrorism.
Regardless of the type of trauma or traumas you have experienced, living with the effects of the traumatic event can be incredibly difficult. And what makes this even more challenging is when those around you (e.g. at work, school, the doctor’s office, etc.) are not aware of just how much these effects can impact you. While most people do not intend to be callous or ignorant to those who have experienced trauma, there are plenty of individuals who do not proceed in their interactions with others with the consideration that their actions and words might trigger and/or make worse symptoms of the trauma. And, this is not their fault, however, there are ways to bring awareness and knowledge to the public in a manner that supports those who are dealing with the effects of trauma.
What is Trauma-Informed Care?
According to the Trauma Informed Care Project, trauma-informed care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma. Trauma-Informed Oregon describes it as “ensuring environments and services are welcoming and engaging for service recipients and staff”.
Some effects that individuals can experience in response to trauma include:
- Intrusive, negative thoughts
These are just some of the effects that individuals who have survived trauma can experience on a regular basis. The goal of trauma-informed care is for environments and services to be aware of trauma and its presence within the individuals with whom they interact, work to understand how trauma can impact individuals and how those impacts can be reflected during an interaction, and know that environments and services can re-traumatize individuals.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) breaks down how to understand trauma-informed care through the “four R’s”, listed below:
- Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understand potential paths for recovery
- Recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system
- Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices
- Seeks to actively resist re-traumatization
To further incorporate trauma-informed care into society, SAMHSA has outlined the guiding principles of trauma-informed care, which are as follows:
- Safety – The staff and people who they serve should feel physically and psychologically safe within an organization
- Trustworthiness and transparency – All operations and decisions are made with transparency and the commitment to developing and upholding trust among staff, clients, and the loved ones of those receiving services.
- Peer support and mutual help – Peer support and mutual help aid in helping establish trust, safety, and empowerment
- Collaboration and mutuality – There is sincere partnering between all levels of staff and clients. There is recognition that healing occurs through relationships and sharing power and decision-making opportunities. The organization realizes that all individuals can play a role in providing a trauma-informed approach.
- Empowerment, voice, and choice – Those working for or receiving services from the organization get their strengths recognized, built upon, and validated. The organization strengthens everyone’s experience of choice and realizes that everyone deserves an individual approach.
- Cultural, historical, and gender issues – The organization pushes past stereotypes and biases in regards to race, gender, cultural background, sexual orientation, etc. and provides recognition for all kinds of individuals.
Having the information and understanding of how to operate in a manner that promotes everyone’s wellbeing (trauma victims included) can be extremely beneficial for not only the organization but the people connected to it as well.
How Can Trauma-Informed Care Help Me?
Trauma-informed care has been significantly effective for people who have experienced trauma. It has allowed individuals to do things they thought they might not be able to, all while feeling comfortable and empowered to do so.
If you have experienced one or more traumas, you understand how important it is for organizations and environments to implement trauma-informed care into their every action. And, when they do, you benefit greatly. Some of the ways in which trauma-informed care can help you include the following:
- No re-traumatization – When those around you operate through trauma-informed care, you will likely not experience re-traumatization. This allows you to continually focus on healing the effects of the trauma you have already experienced without having to add more trauma to it.
- Minimal risk for new trauma – If you are someone who has not experienced trauma or have experienced trauma but did not struggle with significant effects of it, operating in spaces where trauma-informed is practiced care can prevent you from being traumatized. The presence of this practice decreases the changes of workplace violence, sexual assault, bullying, etc.
- Provision of support – As you continue to go through your life after having experienced trauma, it can be hard to go from one place to the next without feeling uneasy or upset. However, organizations that practice trauma-informed care can make your everyday interactions more supportive and comfortable.
There is no way to ensure that the places you go to or the people you meet will operate through trauma-informed approaches. However, when your coping skills are paired with organizations that do utilize a trauma-informed approach, you and others who have experienced trauma can benefit.
Trauma is extremely common. In fact, millions of people throughout the country have experienced at least one traumatic event. No matter if you were raped or neglected as a child, your response to your traumatic event is unique to you. And, when you make the decision to begin addressing the effects of that trauma with a professional, you are taking the steps needed to actively address the effects that you deal with.
With the help and acknowledgment of others in the country, your traumatic experience and the impacts of it do not need to be made worse or agitated. If you need help to cope with the traumatic events you have experienced, do not let another day go by. Contact us right now. We can help.
Chris Clancy is the in-house Content Manager for JourneyPure’s Digital Marketing team, where he gets to explore a wide variety of substance abuse- and mental health-related topics. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist and researcher, with strong working knowledge of hospital systems, health insurance, content strategy, and public relations. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two kids.