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What is Trauma-Informed Care?

June 7, 2022

What is Trauma-Informed Care? You may have heard this word so what does it mean?

Trauma-informed care means that your therapist is aware that trauma may impact the lens through which you look to understand the world around you. Using key trauma-informed principles, our therapists integrate trauma-related prevention, intervention, and strategies during your therapy.

People who have experienced repeated, chronic, or multiple traumas are more likely to experience symptoms and consequences, including disruption of daily routines, disruption of activities, substance misuse, depressed mood, impulsivity, sleep disruptions, and intrusive memories, and a sense of detachment. Trauma can significantly affect how a person engages in major life areas as well as how they respond to treatment.

Is trauma uncommon?
Unfortunately, no, it is normal to experience traumatic events across our lifespans; often, individuals, families, and communities respond to them with resilience. The good news…. According to extensive research traumatic experiences typically do not result in long-term impairment for most individuals.

What trauma-related issues tend to be the most common?
That really depends. The best way to answer that question is to understand the types of traumas a person could possibly experience within their lifetime.

The two types of traumas that can occur are:

1. Caused Naturally aka "Acts of God"

Some examples of these types of traumas include: Tornados, Hurricanes, Famine, Epidemics, Wildfires

2. The second type of trauma is caused by people either accidental or intentional.

Accidental examples include events like Oil Spills, Car accidents due to malfunction, structural collapses, etc. Whereas examples of Intentional Acts include events like Terrorism, Homicides, Suicides, Domestic Violence, Warfare, School Violence, physical abuse, etc.

What’s the impact or difference between the two?
Human-caused traumas are fundamentally different from natural disasters. They are either intentional, such as a domestic violence incident, or unintentional, such as a structural collapse. How a person or community will respond to these traumas often depend on their intentionality. Survivors of an unintentionally human-caused traumatic event may feel angry and frustrated because of the lack of protection or care offered by the responsible party.

Whereas, intentional human-caused acts, survivors often struggle to understand the motives of the perpetrator, the calculated or random nature of the act, and the psychological makeup of the person or group intentionally engaging in this behavior.

How do we know if the trauma we witnessed or experienced will develop into a trauma- and or stress-related disorder?
That depends. It is important that we recognize the context of the trauma like where it occurred, how did the community respond, and how was the person supported. Context can have a significant impact on whether (and how) people experience shame as a result of the trauma, the kinds of support and compassion they receive, whether their experiences are normalized or diminished by others, and even the kinds of services they are offered to help them recover and cope.

Keep in mind, that trauma often accompanies stressful situations like being bombarded with many things at one time, without sufficient time or ability to address them emotionally, cognitively, spiritually, and/or physically. Rapid exposure to numerous traumas one after another lessens one’s ability to process the event before the next attack.

Trauma itself can create significant distress, but often, the losses associated with a trauma have more far-reaching effects. The number of losses can greatly influence an individual’s ability to bounce back from the tragedy.

Survivors’ beliefs and assumptions of the event also contribute to how they process, react to, cope with, and recover from the trauma.

How does individual trauma impact a person?
An individual trauma refers to an event that only occurs to one person. It can be a single event (e.g., sexual assault, physical attack, work-related physical injury) or multiple or prolonged events (e.g., a life-threatening illness, multiple physical assaults). Survivors of individual trauma may not receive the support and concern that members of collectively traumatized groups and communities receive. They are less likely to reveal their traumas or to receive validation of their experiences. Shame is a common feeling or thought that coincides with trauma and it can distort the survivor’s perception of responsibility for the event. Some survivors of individual traumas, especially those who have kept the trauma a secret, may not receive needed comfort and acceptance from others; they are also are more likely to struggle with issues of causation (e.g., a young woman may feel unduly responsible for a sexual assault), to feel isolated by the trauma, and to experience repeated trauma that makes them feel victimized. Therapy can be critical for the survivor's mental and physical health. Knowing they have a safe space to share, process, and discuss the impact of the event on their lives.


Dr. Larkin Hoyt- Clinical Director of CHE


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