One of the first times I encountered the idea of cross-professional trauma-informed care was at a trauma conference we held in Philadelphia. The planning committee was very intentional to create cross-professional discussions. We did this by providing basic trauma training in each represented profession. We then brought all the professions together to process case studies where trauma had occurred in a person’s life. Placing different specialists around a table to discuss a case study revealed that their approaches to the client were either not trauma-informed or disconnected from other professions. Sometimes both of these problems existed.
I remember distinctly the dismay of their own negligence that existed among the professionals. They were upset at their siloed approaches. They agreed that there needed to be dialogue and integration of their professions for a holistic trauma-informed approach. They became committed to be more connected to their professional peers that were providing therapeutic interventions. They also became aware that there could be more creativity and innovation in their approaches to their clients.
One professional was powerfully vocal insisting that this dialogue about trauma-informed approaches was essential. She was resolute that the discussions held at this conference should be maintained consistently in order for professionals to maximize their potential for success in trauma-informed care.
I had a similar and memorable discussion with Dr. Sandy Bloom about clinical approaches within organizations to trauma-impacted clients. She also advocates cross-professional collaboration along with more creativity to a diverse set of approaches that are open to somatosensory regulation and other innovative strategies for treatment and care.
When our professionals are siloed and not in communication with each other, the approaches they utilize to provide care for trauma-impacted individuals can be limited to their own intervention types. Some may use drug therapy. Other may use cognitive therapy. Some may use regulation strategies. Others may attempt a kind of success therapy whereby they give the client new tools or support for what they are attempting to achieve.
We often find that several strategies are being utilized at the same time, which is a significant commitment for the client to undertake and maintain. Like the professionals who discovered how ineffective they were in how they perceived the needs and interventions of their clients, these kinds of approaches exist all over our professional community.
Also, some of the approaches utilized are not aware of the traumatic history of the client. In these cases, they are treating isolated symptoms without an acknowledgement of the originating trauma which is in the vortex of what the client is experiencing.
Once again as difficult as it may be, professionals who are aware of each other’s capabilities and strengths are far more capable to ultimately meet the needs of their clients. They can be inclusive of other approaches, holistic and creative all at the same time. They can then customize their interventions to the specific client and discover what is most effective to meet their needs, reduce their symptoms and help them have greater capacity to cope and heal.
All of this takes a lot more effort, time and commitment to trauma-informed care. However, I think the benefit to clients will be significant if we join together our collaborative expertise and creativity. Then we can provide the best in trauma-informed approaches and interventions for those we support who have had significant trauma in their lives.