Introduction to Trauma-Informed Care: Creating Healing Environments 

In this field, understanding trauma-informed care is essential to our success. For those who may be unfamiliar with the concept, this article aims to provide an accessible introduction to what trauma-informed care is and offer concrete examples of how it can be applied in practice. 

What is Trauma-Informed Care? Trauma-informed care is an approach to caregiving that recognizes the widespread prevalence and impact of trauma on individuals’ lives. It acknowledges that many people have experienced traumatic events that can significantly affect their physical and mental health. Trauma-informed care seeks to create safe, supportive, and empathetic environments for individuals to heal and recover. 

Key Principles of Trauma-Informed Care: 

  • Trauma Awareness: Those who are trauma informed will understand the prevalence and impact of trauma among their service recipients and within the workforce. Policy and practice reflect this awareness and may be supported with activities such as screening and assessments.
  • Safety: The safety of individuals is paramount. Trauma-informed care ensures that physical and emotional safety is a priority. This can include providing a welcoming and non-threatening environment. 
  • Trustworthiness: Being reliable, transparent, and consistent in all interactions is vital. Clients need to trust that their Helpers have their best interests at heart. 
  • Choice & Empowerment: to facilitate healing and avoid re-traumatization, choice and empowerment are part of trauma informed service delivery, for both service recipients and staff. 
  • Collaboration: Care is a collaborative effort between the caregiver and the individual. Clients are seen as partners in their recovery journey, with their input valued. 
  • Strengths Based: With a focus on strength and resilience, service recipients and staff build skills that will help them move in a positive direction. 

Understanding the Impact of Trauma: Helpers are educated about the effects of trauma on physical and mental health. This knowledge helps in providing appropriate care and avoiding re-traumatization. 

Examples of Trauma-Informed Care: 

Language and Communication: Helpers use non-judgmental and empathetic language. They avoid making assumptions about an individual’s past experiences. For instance, instead of asking, “What’s wrong with you?” they might ask, “What happened to you?” 

Providing Choices: In healthcare settings, offering choices to patients can be empowering. For example, allowing a patient to choose their meal preferences or the time of their therapy sessions gives them a sense of control. 

Sensory-Friendly Environments: Recognizing that sensory sensitivities can be triggered by trauma, trauma-informed care might involve providing calming sensory rooms or ensuring that lighting and noise levels are adjustable to individual preferences. 

Active Listening: Helpers actively listen to individuals without interrupting or rushing through appointments. They validate their feelings and experiences. 

Training and Self-Care: Healthcare staff are trained in trauma-informed care principles and are encouraged to practice self-care to prevent burnout. This ensures that they can provide the best possible care to their patients. 

De-escalation Techniques: In situations where patients may become agitated or distressed, trauma-informed care involves de-escalation techniques that prioritize safety and minimize re-traumatization. 

Trauma-informed care is a compassionate and person-centered approach that recognizes the impact of trauma on individuals’ lives. By implementing the key principles and examples mentioned above, healthcare professionals can create environments that foster healing and recovery. Whether you work in a clinical setting or any other healthcare context, adopting trauma-informed care can make a significant difference in the well-being of those you serve, ensuring that they receive the care and support they truly need. 

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Written by State Clinical Director of The Recovery Center of Ohio, Michael Collins, MS, LPCC, LICDC 


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