As I discussed in my article here, the intricacies of trauma require those treating them to adopt an individualized approach to helping them through their recovery. This highly personalized approach is referred to as Trauma Informed Care. It takes into account all of the complexities of trauma and how it affects individuals.
So what does this mean exactly? Well, those of us who are trauma informed approach work with survivors under six main principles.
1. We are first and foremost concerned with our survivor's safety. We're taught how to assess our survivor's physical and metal safety and encourage proper actions if they aren't in a place where we feel we can serve them at that time.
2. We work hard to earn the trust of our survivor's. We encourage trustworthiness and transparency on both sides. Unlike traditional therapy, a trauma informed approach encourages us to talk about ourselves/our experiences or trauma as it helps the survivor. Most survivor's have lived in a constant state of distrust so being open and honest with a survivor is extremely important to their recovery.
3. So often, survivor's feel alone. They are dealing with various feelings of shame, guilt, self-loathing and confusion. Having someone on their side that understands those feelings is the first step in helping the survivor realize that they are not alone at all. When it's appropriate, bringing a survivor into a group setting with other survivors (peer support) can alleviate that loneliness.
4. Working with trauma survivors in a trauma informed approach means that we work collaboratively with our survivors. We do not tell survivors what to do or how to do it. We suggest, encourage and bring up our thoughts, but unlike traditional therapists, we do not assume a higher level of authority over their decisions of their life. There is a time and a place for survivors to work with therapists and doctors, but when they come to work with coaches (or other trauma informed individuals) we are moreso helping guide our clients through recovery rather than dictating how they should recover.
5. So many trauma survivors have either been silenced or controlled for most of their lives. They may often feel they have no control over their voice, thoughts or actions. Trauma has a nasty way of stripping some of the most basic emotional aspects from trauma survivors and it's our job to help restore the fundamental emotions every person deserves. The ability to make their own choices, value their own voices and actions. We work to empower our survivor's to create a life where they have power and agency over their own life.
6. Just as trauma is specific to an individual - so is a treatment/recovery plan for each survivor. What traditional approaches fail to do is take into account all the cultural, historical, gender, and personal experiences that make up an individual. For example, working with a veteran with PTSD will look extremely different than working with an adult who has endured lifetime physical or emotional abuse.
Beneath this principles are essentially 3 main goals:
- To promote our survivor's safety
- To help our survivor's recognize and acknowledge their trauma and it's impact on them
- To encourage and acknowledge resilience in our survivor's and empower them in their life
I hope these explanations help you understand what trauma informed care really means.