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Understanding the 5 Principles of Trauma-Informed Care

5 Principles of Trauma-Informed Care

Everyone experiences trauma, but some people have difficulty emotionally processing these happenings and need professional mental health support. Understanding the five principles of trauma-informed care allows you to choose mental health treatment that puts you and your healing journey first. 

Understanding Emotional Trauma

Trauma looks different for every person. It’s your body’s individualized response to an extraordinarily stressful event, experience, or set of recurring experiences that leaves you stuck in a place that can affect your mental health and overall well-being for a long time. Traumatic experiences include abuse, discrimination, neglect, bullying, or assault.

Responses to emotional trauma vary. For some, it begins during childhood and can go unnoticed into adulthood. Traumatic events can affect your social, emotional, and physical health. These events can shape how you view the world and interact with others, including mental health professionals.

Just like trauma and people’s responses to it vary, so do symptoms of emotional trauma. There’s no standard script to how people do or should respond to trauma. Symptoms may include:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Joint pain
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Anger
  • Gastrointestinal, respiratory, and/or cardiovascular issues
  • Depression
  • Lack of focus

If you experience a traumatic event and have difficulty processing it, a mental health professional can help.

What is Trauma-Informed Care, and Why is It Important?

Trauma-informed care centers on the understanding that trauma can have long-lasting emotional, neurological, psychological, social, and biological effects. The treatment path is “informed” by these past experiences, with a strong sense of empathy from mental health care providers.

Trauma-informed care is unique as it reimagines the client-therapist relationship. The therapist is not an authority figure but instead a partner. They work alongside you during the recovery process, providing support throughout your journey of healing and growth. 

Trauma-informed care helps clients feel safe and in control, so you can be open to healing. It also avoids re-traumatizing people through treatment.

Carmen Dominguez, Chief Clinical Officer at Integrative Life Network, said trauma impacts people as a whole — mind, body, behaviors, self-identity, spirits, relationships, and communities. Because trauma impacts people holistically, they must also heal that way, she said.

“At ILC, we are committed to offering clients a trauma-informed, lived experience where they are invited to reemerge from treatment attuned to their authentic self, and with self agency,” she said. “We aim to prepare clients to live an examined life, so they can continue on a path that brings into what we call authentic alignment.”

To do this, the counselors work to foster safety, trust, transparency, collaboration, and self-agency. They walk alongside their clients to help them learn about and understand their trauma responses. 

“We are committed to offering clients the compassionate, relational collaboration with therapists and their ILC community to begin to live their lives’ from a greater truth,” she said.

5 Principles of Trauma-Informed Care

At the core of trauma-informed care is “Primum non nocere,” which translates from Latin as “First, do no harm.”

When the five principles of trauma-informed care are adhered to, the client’s well-being always comes first. They are not harmed further or re-traumatized by working on their past. 

Trauma-informed care focuses on five principles that any healthcare provider can use to care for clients. They are:

  1. Safety
  2. Trust
  3. Choice
  4. Collaboration
  5. Empowerment

1. Safety

The safety of a client’s emotional and physical well-being is first and foremost. Providing a safe space to share intimate details allows you to have a more relaxed and well-meaning healing journey. 

2. Trust

The provider must show the client they can trust them by creating a relationship based on expectations and transparency. Building this trust allows you to open up emotionally and become vulnerable with your experience. 

3. Choice

Clients can finally feel in control of their life again by having an active choice in their treatment. You can decide how long treatment is suitable, the level of care, or what to discuss in therapy. A provider can support a client’s choice by providing resources that help them rather than contradicting their needs. 

4. Collaboration

Clients who have experienced severe trauma may resist some treatment or distrust the process. Mental health professionals who practice trauma-informed care encourage you to be involved in your healing journey. Rather than telling you what to do, these professionals explain why and invite questions and feedback.  

5. Empowerment

Mental health professionals should empower you to retake hold of your life by making decisions that positively change your life and help you heal. By creating an environment where everyone feels in control of their destiny, morale improves, and favorable treatment results will occur. 

Healing From Trauma

Healing from trauma can be an exhausting journey full of self-doubt and self-discovery. When mental health professionals use the five principles of trauma-informed care, the healing becomes more manageable. 

It’s vital to remember that everyone has their own healing process. People heal differently because everyone has a unique way of processing trauma. Remember, everyone is different, and no brain, heart, or body’s the same. 

It takes time to heal. The healing process can seem grueling and never-ending, but you should be patient with yourself as you try to become whole again. Some of these traumatic events happened long ago, and processing that duration of trauma takes time to unravel. 

Your friends and loved ones may want to help support you during your journey. It’s crucial that not only providers learn how to appropriately approach you during your treatment but also those around you who care and want to see you succeed. By having a positive influence around you, you can thrive. 

How ILC Can Help

Integrative Life Center believes in and adheres to the five principles of trauma-informed care. During treatment, clients can express their boundaries and comfort level to their provider to prevent re-traumatization and help the client heal fully. Contact ILC to learn more about our services and begin taking steps to heal from trauma.

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