Trauma is highly prevalent, can impact a person at any time during their lifespan and may present as mental health, substance use or physical health conditions.Since trauma can have serious effects on health, behaviors, relationships, work, school, and other aspects of life, it is important for behavioral health, health care, and other providers to gain the knowledge and skills needed to promote healing, recovery, and wellness.
A Trauma-Informed Approach, often referred to as trauma-informed care (TIC), is a promising model for organizational change in health, behavioral, health, and other settings that promotes resilience in staff and patients. Key principles of this approach include organizational safety, trustworthiness, transparency, cultural sensitivity, collaboration, and empowerment among and between staff and patients. This approach recognizes the role trauma plays in the lives of patients/consumers and seeks to shift the clinical perspective from “what’s wrong with you” to “what happened to you” by recognizing and accepting symptoms and difficult behaviors as strategies developed to cope with childhood trauma.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACEs) by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), illuminates a strong link among trauma and health, mental health, substance use, and other social and behavioral difficulties, including suicidal ideations and behaviors and IPV. This study found that survivors of childhood trauma are up to 5,000 percent more likely to attempt suicide, have eating disorders, or become IV drug users. The ACE study also demonstrates that nearly every school has students who have been exposed to overwhelming experiences.
To ensure that all students feel safe to learn, an increasing number of school districts are working to implement trauma-sensitive approaches. A trauma-sensitive school prioritizes development of trusting relationships, teaches students social and emotional skills, and addresses behavior with positive and compassionate approaches. It is a place where an ongoing, inquiry-based process allows for teamwork, coordination, creativity, and sharing of responsibility for all students, and support is focused on “what do you need” rather than “what is wrong with you?”
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