“How is someone going to relate to me?” “How will anyone ever understand?” “They will judge me because of what I have been through.” “I can’t talk about it yet because I am just not ready.” These thoughts could be keeping someone from seeking help. Due to a person’s experiences and fears and whether rational or not, being apprehensive about seeking treatment is common.
Unfortunately, someone living with trauma could be trying to win the battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sometimes this results in relying on a substance to cope with their trauma. When there are multiple emotionally draining experiences going on within a person, sometimes it becomes difficult to separate them. Identifying what changes can be made to make life better may be a struggle. Knowing who to reach out to becomes blurred.
The History of Trauma-Informed Care
Although trauma is not a new term, trauma-informed care (TIC) is relatively new to therapy, as far as being a well-known or a more common topic within mental health care. It originated in the 1970s but, up until recently, hasn’t been as emphasized when treating individuals with a background of trauma. Currently, most healthcare facilities are beginning to be required to be trained on and implement trauma-informed strategies within their practice.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) describes trauma as “events or circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening, which result in adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and well-being.”
Trauma is linked to experiences with natural disasters and violence within the home or school. Sexual trauma and experiences faced by first responders and veterans are also on the rise. Trauma impacts people of all ages, children included. This has resulted in more widespread awareness of the need for TIC within our communities.
What Is Trauma-Informed Care?
The Center for Healthcare Strategies shares key ingredients of TIC. These include the following:
- Training staff on trauma-specific treatments and building a trauma-informed workforce
- Engaging individuals in their treatment to assist them in building back their control
- Staff completes screening for trauma, ensures they are preventing secondary trauma, and creates a safe physical and emotional environment.
As the advocacy for TIC continues, it is beginning to be utilized in other organizations. Schools, community resource offices, and other established agencies now implement TIC with those who may have been impacted by traumatic experiences.
PTSD and Trauma-Informed Care
TIC benefits those living with PTSD in many ways. Not only does TIC give power back to the individual, allowing them to be a part of their treatment plan, but they are in a setting set up for those living with trauma. This environment is safe for individuals, with staff trained in strategies and sensitive to those healing from possibly invisible wounds.
When treating PTSD, there are often co-occurring diagnoses. However, assisting individuals in coping with the symptoms associated with PTSD will allow them to be able to address the other experiences they may be dealing with, such as a substance use disorder (SUD).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines basic principles to look for when locating resources for TIC and their focus on building trauma-informed communities. They describe the six guiding principles of trauma-informed care as the following:
- Trustworthiness and transparency
- Peer support
- Collaboration and mutuality
- Empowerment and choice
- Cultural, historical, and gender issues.
Being aware of these principles and being sensitive and compassionate to the experiences of individuals is the foundation of TIC.
The Benefits of a Trauma-Informed Approach
The main goal of TIC is a dramatic shift in focus from “What is wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”. This is taking the blame off of a person who is already in pain, who may be tormenting themselves, believing they have some responsibility in causing the experience to have happened. Historically, this has been known to occur within the mental health care system. The shift has begun.
Removing this self-blame will result in reducing the risk of retraumatizing an individual who is living with PTSD. Addressing a person’s experiences without trying to make them feel responsible for an event they had no control over is a starting point. Then throughout treatment, the individual may learn to heal from some of the pain caused by the experience and learn to gain confidence in themselves again.
With long-term success in TIC, individuals are able to feel acknowledged in their experiences. The symptoms and behaviors that have resulted from that experiences feel validated. They learn new approaches for changing behaviors to healthy coping strategies.
Individuals need to understand and feel confident in the fact there is assistance available. There are people who are compassionate about their situation and are waiting to help them. No one needs to fight their trauma alone.
Trauma-informed care (TIC) is one of the most compassionate treatment options for those living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other impacts of trauma. PTSD can be caused by various experiences. Some veterans live with PTSD from situations they were involved in during deployments, while others are attempting to heal from sexual trauma. TIC is treatment provided through a trauma lens, taking into account and being sensitive to possible trauma that individuals may have experienced. The staff at Destiny Recovery Center are trained in TIC and are ready to help you or your loved one begin to heal from PTSD. To find healing from PTSD and substance use disorder, reach out to Destiny Recovery Center at (909) 413-4304.