What Is Trauma Informed Care?
When someone experiences a traumatic event, areas of their brain are permanently affected. Part of the way their brain works is changed, leaving them with often unpredictable responses to triggers that remind them of the traumatic event they experienced. Things that might not have bothered them before might now send them into a panic and it may be hard for them to trust others, even those who are trying to help them.
This is why it is so important that medical professionals take the time to learn how to implement trauma-informed careinto their practice. This is a way of effectively treating someone who experienced trauma without traumatizing them more. The goal is to help them feel safe, respected, and comfortable as they receive care for whatever ailment they are seeing medical professionals for.
Trauma is the emotional response to a horrific and life-changing event. Trauma can be a recent event or something that occurred in the past that a person continues to experience the effects of. Many people experience a traumatic event and try not to think about it or act as if it doesn't exist. They may push the memory deep down and refuse to talk about it. The longer they go without dealing with these emotions, the worse their mental health can become. There are many things that could cause someone trauma. Some common examples include:
- Losing a loved one
- Experiencing a natural disaster
- Going through a serious illness
- Watching a loved one suffer from a serious illness
- Being neglected as a child
- Witnessing or being the victim of an act of violence
- Being the victim of any sort of physical, mental, or emotional abuse
- Being in a car accident
- Being bullied
- Being sexually assaulted
Someone who has experienced trauma may struggle with a variety of different emotions such as:
- Misplaced guilt or believing they could have done something to prevent what happened
- Feeling angry, scared, or confused
- Feeling depressed
- Feeling mistrustful
- Having trouble concentrating
- Feeling the need to withdraw from others
- Having frequent mood swings
- Being in shock, disbelief, or denial
- Feeling anxious
These feelings can surface at any time in someone who has been traumatized, even long after the fact. Trauma affects many areas of people's lives, can show up in many ways, and is often unpredictable, which is why it's so important that trauma-informed care be implemented into general medical practices.
What Trauma-Informed Care Means
There are five primary components associated with trauma-informed care.
The goal here is to ensure that the client feels not only physically safe but emotionally safe. Consider someone who has been the victim of sexual assault. They may feel uncomfortable being in a closed room with a person they don't know very well, even if it is a doctor. To help make them feel more comfortable, the doctor might help them understand they are not trapped and are free to leave at any time. It may help to make them aware of all the exit points, to leave the door open during sessions, or to have someone they are close to join them for treatment.
Choice ensures that a client feels in complete control and that if they feel uncomfortable with whatever is happening in regards to their treatment, it can stop immediately and on their terms. This also involves letting the client know all available treatment options so that they can choose what they are most comfortable with.
This step involves focusing on the client's strengths and making sure they feel validated and affirmed. This includes making it clear that their input in regards to their treatment is taken seriously and respected and that the client is the driving force in all treatment decisions and activities.
Collaboration means working alongside the client when making decisions about treatment and not making the decisions for them. It may also involve allowing those very close to the client to play a role in their treatment process.
The client must feel they can completely trust all of the staff that they are working with, all of their boundaries will be respected throughout the entire time of treatment, and treatment procedures will be carried out exactly as they were described by the medical staff. This also involves respecting professional boundaries with a client.
Learning to Practice Trauma-Informed Care
Part of the process of learning how to perform trauma-informed care includes:
- Learning to recognize the true impact of trauma on an individual
- Making sure to understand one's trauma and make decisions using the best practices to be respectful of this trauma
- Acting without judgment and avoiding causing the patient any further trauma
Trauma-informed care can be utilized by more than just the medical community. Spreading awareness of trauma-informed practices to all areas of society guarantees the best quality of life for anyone who has experienced trauma.
Trauma is an emotional response to a significant event that occurred in an individual's life. Some examples of trauma include the loss of a loved one, sexual assault, witnessing an act of violence, or losing a loved one. Trauma can make a person feel distrustful, angry, sad, and even in denial. Trauma-informed care involves ensuring that when a professional treats a client, trauma does not progress. The five components of trauma-informed care include safety, choice, empowerment, collaboration, and trust. The goal is to make sure the client feels in control of what is happening to them, respected, and validated. At Achieve Medical Center, we have helped countless patients gain better mental health and we want to help you too. If you're struggling with the effects of trauma we are here for you. Call (619) 381-8249 today to learn more about the types of services we provide.