The Necessity of Trauma-Informed Care

As we explained in our blog on childhood trauma, traumatic events are disruptions in the inner organization of our lives. Our minds can’t find a place for them. People who have suffered traumatic experiences often feel overwhelmed or have difficulties coping with life. Furthermore, because these folks are unable to process these events, they are susceptible to triggers. For example, a veteran of active combat may relive emotions associated with their experiences upon hearing fireworks. On the other hand, triggers can be internal. Feelings of abandonment can trigger difficult memories for those who had a rough childhood. Because trauma is so common in the histories of individuals with co-occurring disorders, it’s important that treatment professionals are sensitive to this and this is the goal of trauma-informed care.

A Basic Definition

In its simplest terms, trauma-informed care means treating trauma survivors with respect. It is essential that we keep their previous experiences in mind when treating them. While this may seem basic enough, it can be more difficult than it sounds. The triggers associated with trauma can make even routine care a challenge. For example, most of us have been asked to disrobe for a physical check-up at our primary doctor’s office. While this may be a little uncomfortable or embarrassing for some of us, it can be a severe trigger for survivors of sexual assault. Trauma-informed care is the means by which we provide treatment to these individuals when ensuring they feel safe throughout the process.

The Principles of Trauma-Informed Care

As we mentioned above, traumatic experiences are a common occurrence in the stories of those struggling with a dual diagnosis. As a result, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration outlines six principles of trauma-informed care. Taken directly from their Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach, these are:

  • Safety – “Understanding safety as defined by those served is a high priority.”
  • Trustworthiness and Transparency – The goal is to build and maintain “trust with clients and family members, among staff, and other members involved in the organization.”
  • Peer Support – “Peer support and mutual self-help are key vehicles for establishing safety and hope, building trust, enhancing collaboration, and utilizing their stories and lived experiences to promote recovery and healing.”
  • Collaboration and Mutuality – “The organization recognizes that everyone has a role to play in a trauma-informed approach.” 
  • Empowerment, Voice, and Choice – “Organizations understand the importance of power differentials and ways in which clients, historically, have been diminished in voice and choice and are often recipients of coercive treatment.”
  • Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues – “The organization actively moves past cultural stereotypes and biases (e.g. based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religion, gender-identity, geography, etc.)” and “incorporates policies, protocols, and processes that are responsive to the racial, ethnic, and cultural needs of individuals served.”

Innovative, Creative Care

Creative Care strives to help our clients achieve validation and acceptance of themselves as they are while simultaneously helping them change their dysfunctional behaviors. Since 1989, we have helped hundreds of men and women overcome their co-occurring disorders with cutting-edge, compassionate care. Our fully equipped staff includes a consulting psychiatrist, psychotherapists, registered nurses, and counselors. They’re all expertly trained to treat the whole person as a person, attacking the condition from all angles. We work as a team to create your ideal recovery plan. If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health, start the recovery process today. Call Creative Care at 855-954-0762.