There is a great deal of information and research regarding trauma-informed care. These ideas reflect approaches and principles that recognize the power, pervasiveness, and complexity of trauma on individuals who have been victims of trauma.
Professionals who are trauma-informed are attuned and aware of the impact of trauma on those in their care.
They use approaches that are based on a clear understanding of the neuroscience of trauma and recognize the obstacles to regulation and healing that trauma can create. They know that the process of building a relationship with a trauma-impacted individual is a lengthy one of establishing and growing trust.
Professionals are able to demonstrate the skills to help clients cope with their symptoms by using strategies that regulate the brain, prevent further trauma reenactments, and bring healing to those in their care. It goes way beyond traditional counseling approaches.
In fact, it is a significant disadvantage to be trauma-informed when those you work with are not. The lens for what is observed and the therapeutic approaches are so different that there tend to be conflicts that collide philosophically and practically.
In order to prevent confusion and conflicts around trauma treatment, we should strive to establish organizations and systems of care that have:
- similar language
- a consistent philosophy of therapeutic interventions
- strategies that are more brain-regulating, and
- collaborative problem-solving
A trauma-informed professional uses an approach with common values and goals to provide safe environments for their clients with clear intentionality of how trauma will be observed and treated.
Trauma-informed communities of practice are groups of professionals consistent in their approaches to trauma, who can create open dialogue and creative strategies that will help their clients effectively overcome the impact of trauma.
An equally important set of values around trauma-informed communities of practice is a recognition of vicarious trauma.
This reflects an understanding that trauma caregivers tend to experience some of the same trauma as their clients. Because they essentially re-live trauma experiences, professionals also need to be cared for as they deal with the trauma of others each day. It is predictable they, too, will be impacted by dealing with trauma’s devastation day after day. They will need work environments where they can process and openly discuss the impact of trauma in their own experiences.
From our perspective, it is not adequate just to provide a level of training for trauma.
We also need communities of practice that are purposed to unite professionals in their care for their trauma-impacted clients while caring for each other.
There is a need for a more universal approach to trauma-recovery in which professionals have a consistent language and approach that demonstrates competency, consistency and appropriate levels of care for those in their sphere of influence.
These communities of practice have deep respect and humility for those who have experienced varied forms of trauma, and can effectively provide environments of healing and hope to those they touch each day.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO