Seeking medical and mental health care can feel invasive. The process can involve intrusive questions, and the client can feel attacked. And when a client has had traumatic life experiences, these feelings can intensify. Offering help through a trauma-informed lens is one-way mental health professionals lessen these feelings and better support their clients.
What is Trauma-Informed Care?
Trauma is an emotional response to an experience that happened to you, someone you love, or something you witnessed. Most people experience some form of trauma at some point in their lives. Often they recover from their traumatic experiences with the help and support of friends and family. But trauma can lead to physical and mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Trauma-informed care is simply a way to approach treatment with the client’s past traumatic experiences in mind. This framing enables mental health care providers to approach clients with empathy. It also promotes an environment of safety, empowerment, and healing.
But does that mean clients need to explain their past trauma to receive trauma-informed care? Not at all. Many clients don’t volunteer information about their past traumatic experiences because of feelings of guilt or shame. Instead, providers assume that clients have had these experiences and offer care accordingly.
5 Principles of Trauma-Informed Care
The ultimate goal of trauma-informed care is to avoid re-traumatizing a client by inadvertently recreating conditions of a previous traumatic experience. These five principles are the basis for trauma-informed care at Integrative Life Center.
Creating a safe environment is critical when it comes to trauma-informed care. This environment means providers need to assure clients they are emotionally and physically safe while seeking care. They also must build an atmosphere of trustworthiness and transparency.
Safety is impossible if the client doesn’t trust the provider. Providers must show clients they are trustworthy for clients to feel safe enough to open up and share necessary information with the provider. Trustworthy providers communicate consistent boundaries and clear expectations. This communication shows the client there will be no surprises. They are also transparent. They explain precisely why a particular aspect of therapy or treatment is vital to the client’s overall well-being.
Trauma-informed care empowers clients to make active choices regarding their treatment plans. Choice allows clients to control the duration of their stay, level of care, or even what they will focus on in therapy. Many people who experienced trauma may have felt like they weren’t in control during the traumatic event, and any time they re-experience it. By allowing the client to make choices, providers enable them to take control of their treatment and empower them to move forward.
Trauma-informed care is a collaboration. It’s not a strict protocol that focuses on rules and rigid structures. Instead, providers work with clients to come up with the best plan of action for the client.
Trauma-informed care promotes resilience and provides hope for recovery. To do that, providers empower clients to build on their strengths and develop healthier coping mechanisms.
What is a Trauma-Informed Lens?
Receiving help through a trauma-informed lens means the provider is aware of trauma’s effects on a person. And the provider is actively employing the five principles of trauma-informed care. These five principles allow clients who have experienced trauma to better engage with treatment and heal.
When receiving help through a trauma-informed lens, clients may not immediately notice the difference. In many cases, it’s something as simple as a shift in how providers speak with patients. For example, rather than asking “what’s wrong with you,” a provider might ask “what happened to you.”
In some cases, a person may seem inattentive or detached. But that could be a sign that they are dissociating, meaning they removed themselves from reality for a short time to mentally cope with a traumatic memory. A trauma-informed lens allows providers to offer care to this client better and empower the client to build healthier coping mechanisms.
Trauma-informed care often looks like doctors explaining why they ask specific questions, so the client can understand why that information is necessary. Also, many doctors offer to stop treatment at any time if a client feels like they are re-experiencing a traumatic event. This ability gives control back to the client. And it allows them to handle triggering situations with a sense of agency. It also enables doctors to respond with compassion.
The trauma-informed lens focuses on viewing trauma as an injury and traumatic events as experiences.
Why Trauma-Informed Treatment is Important
Trauma-informed care enables clients to receive treatment informed by their past traumatic experiences. Trauma-informed therapy programs center on understanding the emotional, neurological, psychological, biological, and social effects of trauma on clients seeking therapy.
At Integrative Life Center, we dedicate ourselves to the principles of trauma-informed care. In our trauma-informed therapy programs, your therapist will help you identify any thoughts or beliefs you have that are related to a traumatic event. They will help you overcome these and empower you to move forward in your journey.
Working through traumatic events is key when it comes to receiving help. Contact ILC to learn how our programs and services can help you work through past trauma.