If you work in the social work field, you have most likely heard this term before. Many agencies are starting to practice from this theoretical framework to best fit the needs of their clients. The need for this type of training and therapeutic implementation is becoming more apparent as large scale, tragic events continue to occur.
Related Reading: Trauma and Women: How Social Workers Can Help
The Importance of Trauma -Informed Care
We have seen this through terrible events such as 9/11 and multiple mass shootings. However, it is important to note that trauma does not solely apply to massive, worldwide events. Trauma is equally apparent and important on a smaller scale. We see this when a high school football star gets into a car accident and loses his college scholarship when a young child loses a parent, when domestic violence occurs (experienced or witnessed) or some form of sexual assault. All of these events can be a form of trauma.
The reason trauma-informed training is so important is because the way one traumatic event comes to fruition throughout a client’s life is unique to each individual person. There is a misconception that not all social workers need trauma training if, for example, they solely want to work with clients who suffer from addiction. However, trauma-informed care equips a social worker to be able to get to the root cause of an issue, i.e. how and why did the addiction start? In other words, substance abuse may be a symptom of a trauma-related event, not necessarily the sole presenting problem.
What Are Your Client’s Triggers?
In addition to determining the root cause of an issue, a social worker must be trained in determining what triggers are for their clients. Even if two clients have similar experiences that were traumatic for them, the situations, people and/or words that cause them to recall their traumatic memories will vary.
Values and Principles
A social worker and/or organization utilizing a trauma-informed approach will practice within four main values:
- Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery
- Recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system
- Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices
- Seeks to actively resist re-traumatization
A social worker and/or organization must also adhere to the six main principles:
- Trustworthiness and Transparency
- Peer Support
- Collaboration and mutuality
- Empowerment, voice and choice
- Cultural, Historical and Gender Issues
There are some well-known, widely used interventions that social workers can keep in their “tool-box”:
- Addiction and Trauma Recovery Integration Model (ATRIUM)
- Essence of Being Real
- Risking Connection®
- Sanctuary Model®
- Seeking Safety
- Trauma, Addiction, Mental Health, and Recovery (TAMAR)
- Trauma Affect Regulation: Guide for Education and Therapy (TARGET)
- Trauma Recovery and Empowerment Model (TREM and M-TREM)
All of these interventions have the same ethics and goals in mind: the survivor’s need to be respected, informed, connected and hopeful regarding their own recovery; the interrelation between trauma and symptoms of trauma such as substance abuse, eating disorders, depression and anxiety; and, the need to work in a collaborative way with survivors, family and friends of the survivor, and other human services agencies in a manner that will empower survivors and consumers.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
National Center for Trauma-Informed Care (NCTIC)