What Does it Mean to be Trauma-Informed?

You may have heard the phrase “trauma-informed” in different contexts recently. Trauma-informed practice is something that is becoming a part of many areas like therapy, education, and medical services. So what does it mean to be trauma-informed and why does it matter?

 

What is Trauma?

Trauma has several definitions but can generally be defined as the result of any experience that overwhelms our ability to cope. This means that trauma is unique to each person, as an event may be traumatic for some people, while others may not experience long-term impacts. Some examples of trauma-inducing experiences include abuse, violence, neglect, threats (life-threatening experiences like natural disasters, car accidents, or illness, or perceived threats to safety), and injury, among many other possible events or patterns. You also do not need to be the one experiencing the traumatic event to be impacted, as people who witness the experience, hear about it happening to a loved one, or are repeatedly exposed to the details may also be affected.

 

Trauma-Informed Practice Trauma-informed practice involves service providers being informed about traumatic experiences and their effects, and taking this into consideration when they interact with and care for people. Here are some things trauma-informed counsellors might focus on:

  • Creating Safety: Practitioners focus on making sure the space feels safe physically, and that their clients feel safe emotionally. This could look like creating a welcoming environment that is sensitive to sensory input, creating a trusting relationship, and explaining how and why they are doing something.

  • Collaboration: Practitioners work with their clients so they feel included in their treatment plan, and so they can learn what works and what doesn’t for their clients’ particular needs.

  • Offering Choice: Trauma may lead people to feel a loss of control. Offering choice and checking in frequently can allow people to feel empowered and in control of how their sessions proceed.

  • Awareness: Practitioners are educated and trained in trauma so they can understand how it is affecting each client and the best practices to use in therapy. They can also help clients become more aware of how their trauma affects them and provide strategies to manage it.

Why is being trauma-informed important?

Being trauma-informed is important because it allows for a focus on building trust, safety, and empowering clients. These qualities are beneficial for everyone, regardless of your experiences. Trauma-informed care shifts the perspective from “what is wrong with you?” to “what have you experienced and how does it affect you?” This opens up space for acceptance, healing, and growth.

If you want to learn more, work through how your experiences affect you, or would like to experience trauma-informed therapy, book a free consultation with our therapists (who are all trauma-informed practitioners).

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