Tonier walks through her early childhood and describes a lifelong history of neglect, physical and sexual abuse, abandonment and then later drug use, prostitution and many, many incarcerations. Tonier recounts the system "failing me." The system focused on what she was doing, rather than what may have been done to her.
It was a turning point in her life when someone (who was trained in trauma informed care) actually asked her, "what happened to you" rather than "what's wrong with you."
As Social Workers and Mental Health Counselors, it is our obligation to provide "best practice." I love that so much research and support is now coming out to support the Trauma Informed Care model.
For example, a 35 year old caucasian female comes in for intake. She is court ordered to do Substance Abuse treatment following her 5th arrest for possession. She meets clinical criteria to be diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Polysubstance Dependency. I could easily fill in her diagnosis based solely on the symptoms I see and send her on her way with an appointment card. Or instead, I can listen to her story and ask questions with the mental framework, that this broken and hurting woman in front of me may have experienced something very traumatic. It may not be that this person decided to start using cocaine for the heck of it, but rather because she is self-medicating to cover up deep seeded pain. Pain so deep that she may not even be able to identify where it all comes from. It is MY JOB as the professional to believe her and to hear her story.
The following definition is from the Trauma Informed Care Project:
"Trauma Informed Care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma."
SAMHSA offers a free PDF document on Trauma Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services here. It is long, but a really good read and explains the premise behind Trauma Informed Care well and in a comprehensive manner.
Just this morning, I ran across this article from the United Kingdom:
The Trauma Informed Care framework is out there, even internationally, and that makes me so happy.
Here are some additional resources regarding Trauma Informed Care.
If you have been to a Trauma Informed Care training or have resources you would like to share, please comment below. I would love to have a running document full of wonderful resources to be available for you all.