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What is trauma informed care?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been notoriously linked to soldiers who have experienced combat that led to the inability to function in day to day life. It wasn't until the 1970's, after the Vietnam War, was this concept really discussed. A movement began as a large number of homeless veterans, returning from the war, was thrown into the light as they struggled with mental illnesses that was largely treated with illicit drugs. In the 1980's, the DSM-III introduced the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as defined by a large event occurring that resulted in the threat of one's life or bodily harm that did not fall within the realm of day to day life. The treatment of this diagnosis in the 1980's included medication management and group talk therapy. Just think about this, trauma care and treatment was in it's infancy just 40 years ago; it is no surprise that more studies and research has shown that this field is an ever changing one. Today, we understand that trauma can occur in so many different way; I personally like definition that the BodyWise Foundation uses. They define trauma as:

"Something happens that overcomes us – it is too much, too fast, too soon - and there is not enough time to integrate the experience."

This definition fits with the most recent trend we are seeing with the the Coronavirus Pandemic; a spike in depression and anxiety according to a recent report by the CDC can be linked to the inability to adjust to our new norm. While some of us have been lucky enough to not be as directly effected by the virus, we continue to see a struggle in adjusting to the new "normal" in our society, in relation to the steps taken in response to slowing the virus' spread. Operating from a trauma informed mindframe is more important now than ever.

Trauma informed treatment began to make its way into the clinical field in the early 2000's, which involved educating patients and professionals on the effects that trauma had on the physical body, as well as the mind. The Adverse Childhood Experiences study found a correlation in trauma and increased future health complications, in addition to an increased risk of substance abuse. This prompted professionals to begin to operate on a more comprehensive level that involved gathering more background information in medical settings. When it comes to therapy, the trauma informed approach is client-centered; this involves four components.

Empowering the client to be a part of their treatment plan.
Giving the client options and allowing them to make the choice in treatment approaches.
Collaborating with the client's medical provider, psychiatrist, family, social services and/or other key individuals in the client's health.
Establishing a sense of safety and comfort within the therapeutic setting.
Developing a trusting and therapeutic relationship with the client.

Trauma informed care is so much more than just what happens within the office of a therapy session. It involves the private practice as a whole; the training of administrative staff, the creation of a safe space within the building and addressing clinical staff's mental health as well. Trauma informed care is a collaborative, team effort for a practice to ensure that a client feels safe and secure the moment they pull into the parking lot of a care facility.

So how does one go about finding out if their clinic is trauma informed? The answer is pretty simple, just ask them! Give up your clinic or ask a potential provider if they have any trauma informed training. For example, if a potential client was to contact myself (Ashley Wright) and ask if I was trauma informed I would say, "Yes! I am certified in Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy." That means that I am aware of how past trauma impacts cogntive distortions, distorts the brain, impacts the body, creates medical complications and impacts those that surround you. Bottom line...a trauma informed clinic is one that aims to prevent retraumatization of their client.

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