The 6 Principles of Trauma-Informed Care
Trauma-informed care is a popular term in the mental health world right now, and for good reason! Read below to learn what trauma-informed care is and about the 6 principles mental health professionals can follow when providing trauma-informed care.
What is Trauma-Informed Care?
Trauma-informed care approaches client’s mental health needs in a way that takes into account any trauma that they may have experienced. A key goal of trauma-informed care is to prevent any re-traumatization that could prevent clients from continuing to seek care. When used effectively, trauma-informed care enables clinicians to ensure that mental health care processes, procedures and settings protect clients from re-traumatization.
6 Guiding Principles To Trauma-Informed Care
The CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR), in collaboration with SAMHSA’s National Center for Trauma-Informed Care (NCTIC), developed training about the role of trauma-informed care. The training aimed to increase provider awareness of the impact that trauma can have in the communities where they work. SAMHSA’s six principles that guide a trauma-informed approach include:
- Trustworthiness & transparency
- Peer support
- Collaboration & mutuality
- Empowerment & choice
- Cultural, historical & gender issues
Adopting a trauma-informed approach is not accomplished through any single particular technique or checklist. It requires constant attention, caring awareness, and sensitivity. Ongoing organizational assessment and quality improvement, as well as engagement with community stakeholders, will help to imbed this approach.
Safety in Trauma-Informed Care
Clients need to feel safe while they are in the care of mental health professionals. Clinicians should ensure that clients and families feel physically, emotionally and psychologically safe while in their care. Agencies should establish mental health care settings that provide patients and families with a sense of security.
Trustworthiness & Transparency in Trauma-Informed Care
Clinicians need to be transparent with clients to build a sense of trustworthiness, especially when clients have suffered traumatic events such as domestic violence, assault or other forms of abuse. In many of these cases, clients are afraid to seek mental health care because they lack a sense of trust. It is especially important that clinicians develop a sense of trustworthiness with their clients.
Peer Support in Trauma-Informed Care
To provide trauma-informed care, mental health professionals must thoroughly understand various traumatic conditions and how they affect mental health care. Mental health professionals need to acknowledge that each client may have experienced a traumatic event that may prevent them from being open about their mental health problems. By actively listening to clients, clinicians can determine a client’s needs as opposed to trying to “fix” or “heal” a condition.
Collaboration & Mutuality in Trauma-Informed Care
Mental health professionals should view clients as partners in the effort to develop treatment plans. As collaborators, clients and mental health professionals will work together to achieve the desired result. Through collaboration, clients become active participants in their mental health decisions..
Empowerment & Choice in Trauma-Informed Care
Clinicians work to empower clients who have experienced trauma to take back control of their mental health. To do this, clinicians should encourage clients to feel comfortable sharing their stories. Mental health professionals need to effectively communicate with clients about options for treatment and enable clients to actively participate in determining their care.
Cultural, Historical & Gender Issues in Trauma-Informed Care
To establish effective trauma-informed care, mental health professionals need to recognize and eliminate any potential cultural, racial, gender or other biases. This can be accomplished by offering services that help identify and cater to client needs. If a client feels more comfortable receiving care from a female clinician, for example, this request should be accommodated.
Cultural differences should also be recognized when a client is receiving care. Mental health professionals and agencies should devise processes and protocols to accommodate the cultural needs of the populations they serve. The potential for re-traumatization from the lack of sensitivity to cultural, racial, gender or any other biases is a significant concern when developing a plan to institute trauma-informed care.
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