Trauma-informed care can be viewed as an overarching philosophy and approach, designed to support both front line workers and clients. Trauma-informed care is based on the understanding that many if not most clients have suffered traumatic experiences. Those who are seeking care for mental health and/or addictions frequently have a history of childhood trauma and neglect. This has been well established through research.
A trauma-informed approach encourages all service providers to approach their clients with the assumption they have experienced trauma. This understanding promotes compassion and allows for services to be better aligned with the needs of our clients. One can do no hard by assuming a client has experienced trauma. However, clients with trauma will be much better served when we deepen our understanding of how past trauma has influenced their current behaviour and emotions. People create adaptations in order to cope and survive. They need support in changing these adaptations when they are no longer helpful. Trauma-informed approaches also support staff with the goal of reducing vicarious trauma and burnout. Professionals who practice trauma-informed care report higher morale and job satisfaction and increased collaboration with clients.
A program, organization, or system that is trauma-informed:
Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands 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
Additional training can help support front line works in their efforts to understand the connection between trauma, substance abuse, physical and mental health.
Tips for Trauma-Informed Practice
1: Build a relationship of trust and support before addressing change
2: Lean in to empathy and compassion
3: Use co-regulation in order to model and teach self regulation
4: Understand behaviour as communication and look for the unmet need that is driving the behaviour
5: Communicate clearly and accurately service expectations, informed consent and confidentiality