Many people are exposed to traumatic events. However, many public services, like law enforcement and healthcare services, are not always trained to support people who are traumatized and may re-traumatize them. With more research on responses to trauma, there has shown to be more need for trauma-informed care. While trauma-informed services have their limitations, it is crucial to implement in public services to prevent re-traumatization.
What Is The Trauma-Informed Approach?
The CDC reported that “one in four children experiences some sort of maltreatment [while]…One in four women has experienced domestic violence.” With trauma being so prevalent, it is crucial to recognize that trauma is not always visible. Service providers should be providing the best care they can to everyone they encounter. However, they can cause more harm than good if they re-traumatize clients and patients if they are not aware of the trauma faced.
The trauma-informed approach has 6 guiding principles: safety, trustworthiness and transparency, peer support, collaboration and mutuality, empowerment voice and choice, and cultural, historical, and gender issues. Training in trauma-informed care emphasizes the importance of recognizing that every patient may have experienced trauma. Services or treatment should not be forced upon someone, but service providers should respond with compassion. With these principles, service providers would be creating safer environments where they can support clients in creating a space for them to voice their concerns and needs.
While trauma-informed services increase awareness of trauma and how to approach it, it should not end there. Dr. Ginwright, an Associate Professor of African American Studies at San Francisco State University, noted several limitations with only focusing on current trauma-informed care. One was how it focuses on individual experiences rather than issues that impact communities. Because of this, trauma-informed care can neglect to address the root causes of trauma. Furthermore, it can lead to more of a focus on the trauma and not the wellbeing of the individual. Instead, Dr. Ginwright introduces healing centered engagement, which is a more holistic approach to addressing trauma. Healing centered engagement empowers individuals to advocate for change that impacts their wellbeing. It also focuses on social identities, cultures, and wellbeing.
Trauma-informed services do have their shortcomings, but it is still crucial to implement to raise awareness of the prevalence of trauma. Although people may not show that they have experienced trauma, that does not mean that people are not traumatized when they encounter services like law enforcement and healthcare. Implementing trauma-informed services is an important step to take to ensure that services are equipped with the tools to recognize and work with people who have experienced trauma. Several states have included trauma-informed programs in their policies to address the trauma that many people face. Policymakers should continue by focusing on root issues that lead to people experiencing trauma like communities living in poverty. Furthermore, services should support individuals and communities with healing and empowerment.
With more awareness of the trauma that many people face, there has been more action to address it. However, it is important to analyze the effectiveness of trauma-informed care and how it can be combined with more healing centered programs. It is always important to listen to the voices of communities impacted by trauma and how to work with them to heal.