Traumatic events affect people in various ways. When we encounter a dangerous or life threatening situation and our sense of safety is compromised, we react in different manners. Our brain handles these terrible events in a way that’s not necessarily the same as how others’ do. Most people feel intense emotions like fear, grief, anger and guilt. Some experience sleep deprivation or the stronger need for self-isolation. For some, avoiding the impacts of trauma is easier than facing them so they end up feeling numb or just totally denying their real feelings altogether.
Though these emotions can be overwhelming at first, some people find a way to get past them. With the help of hobbies, recreational activities, social groups and loved ones, they are able to get back on track by finding their sense of security and well-being again. Eventually, they go back to their normal lives without having any traumatic recalls of any kind.
However, not everyone can easily overcome the effects of trauma. Some struggle more than others especially when their initial feelings towards the traumatic event do not easily subside. The horrible thoughts stay and leave long lasting effects to the person, altering how he sees his own existence and the world around him. An extreme level of trauma may even get worse which sooner or later can lead to mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression.
Severe trauma can also dramatically affect someone’s ability to manage relationships. Building stronger bond with others can get very difficult due to the feeling of increased vigilance and fear that a partner or friend can hurt them, causing the same level of intense pain and insecurity that they have experienced before.
What is Trauma-Informed Care?
Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) is an approach used by health care providers that fully recognizes how a person’s trauma can greatly affect how he responds and complies with treatment which can also significantly influence his process of healing. It is classifying trauma as a major factor in devising a more personalized approach in physical, mental and emotional treatment. Various medical health providers and psychological therapy centers are already employing trauma-informed care in both their clinical and organizational levels.
However, utilizing trauma-informed care is not a single-step procedure. It requires constant practice among administrative and medical staff as well as sincere concern and continuous collaboration among policy makers to make sure that it remains an integral part of an organization’s principles, culture and methodologies. It needs to be consistently applied on all stages of patient care and day-to-day operations. TIC should also be included on workforce seminars and trainings to ensure that all members of the organization, especially those who have major interactions with patients, have an obligation to make the patients feel safe all the time.
How Beneficial is Trauma-Informed Care?
Integrating trauma-informed care on organizational practices provides a whole new level of customer service and treatment. It redefines how a person is regarded from the moment he first seek for help through to the completion of his treatment.
If you’re someone seeking therapy and you are also dealing with the effects of trauma, it is very important to find help that does not only seek immediate and straightforward treatment. You should go for someone who uses trauma-informed therapy in assisting their clients all throughout the healing process.
To make a calibrated approach on the implementation of trauma-informed care/therapy, the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) has formulated 6 guiding principles, namely:
- Trustworthiness and Transparency
- Peer Support
- Collaboration and Mutuality
- Empowerment Voice and Choice
- Cultural, Historical and Gender Issues
So how does a trauma-informed care help a person dealing with trauma and how does it differ from a non-TIC approach?
- It promotes a more practical treatment.
Since trauma-informed care realizes the widespread effects of trauma and recognizes its signs and symptoms in patients and clients, a modified treatment is implemented once the presence of trauma is established. One that is more effective and appropriate for the person involved. This means asking the right questions leading to a more accurate diagnosis and preventing potential waste of time and money for both the patient and the organization.
- It prevents further harm (re-traumatization).
If a healthcare provider or therapist is more open and trained to identify the indications of trauma in a person, the course of the correspondence will not pose any potential risk. A number of physical examinations and some sensitive questions may have a tendency to relive someone’s traumatic experience. That’s why it is very important to avoid or very carefully perform them without triggering too much emotional intensity, thus helping the patient rather than causing further damage.
- It creates a safer environment.
As traumatic experiences have lifelong effects, a person with a history of trauma may function differently and may react in his own way. It may not always be apparent because some people tend to conceal the signs very well. Trauma-informed care creates a more secured environment for both staff and patients. It promotes a safe and welcoming setting on all aspects of healthcare physically, emotionally and culturally. A TIC approach gives everyone full control of their emotions and surroundings and never makes them feel unsafe or judged.
How to Find a Real Trauma-informed Therapist
Unfortunately, you may find some health care providers and therapists who claim that they are using trauma-informed approach but do not truly implement TIC on all aspects of their practice. So in the end, the process that is supposed to heal you would only leave you feeling more unsafe and insecure.
It is very important to find someone who you can fully trust. You need a therapist who knows how to use his expertise and knowledge on the complexities of trauma to set the right mood for you, make you feel safer and gradually help you open up about your deepest emotions.
Here’s how to know that you’re in a genuine trauma-informed therapy:
- Pay attention to the questions being asked.
During your first few therapy sessions, or even during your first call with your therapist, give close attention to the questions being thrown at you. If the initial sessions involve asking you to narrate your past and share the details of your traumatic experience, it is NOT a good sign! It is a big no-no for trauma-informed therapists to make you recall traumatic events before even regulating your emotions first.
- You should feel safe.
Take notice of the way you feel when you talk to your therapist. The staff, therapists and even the therapy room should always give you a sense of physical and emotional safety. You must feel that you are always treated with respect and compassion all throughout the course of your treatment.
- The therapy itself should make you feel comfortable.
A real trauma-informed therapist uses a more suitable approach that never pushes you to your limit. They know the importance of determining your coping skills beforehand and using that information to work with you in building a stronger coping mechanism, subsequently helping you deal with your trauma in a way that is therapeutic and more manageable.
- They never make you feel guilty or judged.
A trauma-informed therapist makes you feel that your behavior is not because of who you are, but because of the traumatic events that made you respond to your surroundings the way you do. That you are not to be blamed for the way you feel but should be understood.
We at Next Level Recovery have very helpful trauma-informed therapists who can assist you in your journey of overcoming your trauma. Do not hesitate to contact us for inquiries or for more information about our trauma-informed approach.