A trauma-informed approach assumes that many people have had one or more experiences that fall within the spectrum of “trauma.” Such individuals are most commonly referred to as “survivors” in the field of human services.
Trauma can be defined as an overwhelming event or sequence of experiences that threaten bodily harm and/or sanity, or bring about a permanent loss. Overwhelming feelings of fear, helplessness, and loss of control are present.
Trauma informed care recognizes the need of survivors to be respected, informed, and hopeful regarding their healing. A trauma informed care perspective asks the survivor “What happened?” instead of asking “What’s wrong?” or focusing on the problems or symptoms to be “fixed.” It focuses on individual strengths and doesn’t over-emphasize symptoms.
Trauma informed care understands the relationships between trauma and the variety of trauma symptoms as they may be presented in rape crisis, mental health, and substance abuse settings. That is, “post-traumatic stress symptoms” are understood as coping mechanisms to manage the traumatic memory and may also reflect ongoing experiences of trauma, either in the form of continuous traumatic experiences or “triggers” that recall the past events into the present time, where they are “re-experienced” as though they are a current threat.
Trauma informed care involves working collaboratively with survivors, their support network, and other service providers in a manner that empowers and does not re-traumatize the survivor.
Is your organization trauma informed? Find out here: https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Is-Your-Organization-Trauma-Informed.pdf