About Mental Health
What Is Trauma-Informed Care?
Going through trauma is not rare. Many people in our lives have experienced trauma. In fact, about 70% of people in the U.S. have experienced some form of trauma at some point in their lives. Trauma can come in the form of childhood neglect or abuse, grief or loss, accidents or injury, war and other forms of violence, and many other things.
It’s important to realize that trauma can happen to anyone, and experiencing trauma—and related conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder—are not a sign of weakness. People can and do recover from trauma.
For people struggling with mental health, trauma can often be a contributing factor. That’s why trauma-informed care is so important when it comes to mental and behavioral health. Trauma-informed care recognizes and responds to the signs, symptoms, and risks of trauma to better support the health needs of patients who have experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and other types of trauma that can impact their mental well-being.
Here are the six guiding principles of trauma-informed care.
Developing healthcare settings and treatments that ensure patients’ physical and emotional safety is one of the primary goals of trauma-informed care. Feeling physically, socially, or emotionally unsafe can cause extreme anxiety in a person who has experienced trauma and could even result in re-traumatization. Creating a safe environment is essential to successfully engaging patients in their care.
Trauma-informed care must create clear expectations with patients about what proposed treatments entail, who will provide services, and how care will be provided. Operations and decisions at a trauma-informed care facility are conducted with transparency with the goal of building and maintaining trust with clients and family members, among staff, with partners, and with other organizational stakeholders to help facilitate effective treatment.
Providing peer support is a cornerstone of trauma-informed care. “Peers” refer to individuals with lived experiences of trauma. The peer support and mutual self-help offered by including those with lived experience as part of the care team helps establish safety and hope, builds trust, and enhances collaboration, and the lived experience of peers helps to promote recovery and healing.
Maximizing collaboration among healthcare staff, patients, and their families in organizational and treatment planning creates partnerships and helps level the differences in power between staff and clients, demonstrating that healing happens with the meaningful sharing of power and decision-making in relationships. Trauma-informed approaches to care recognize that everyone has a role to play in healing and recovery.
Because many who experience trauma may feel powerless, informing patients regarding treatment options so they can choose the options they prefer and using individuals’ strengths to empower them in the development of their treatment is essential to allowing them to heal and move forward in the recovery. Guests are supported in shared decision-making, goal-setting and making choices about their care. Staff facilitate recovery rather than control the process or care plan.
Trauma-informed care is based on the understanding that cultural, historical and gender issues play a significant role in an individual’s experience of trauma. A trauma-informed care facility incorporates policies, procedures and practices that are responsive to the racial, ethnic, gendered, and cultural needs of the individuals served. It also recognizes and addresses historical and generational forms of trauma.