Trauma-informed care is a human-centered approach to care that recognizes the widespread impact of trauma, its ongoing effects, and individuals’ lived experiences. Trauma-informed frameworks can be applied to care, environments, organizations, and service delivery by promoting healing as opposed to re-traumatization. Trauma-informed care does not always aim to treat reactions or symptoms of trauma, but instead seeks to create supportive services and environments that integrate knowledge about trauma in policies, procedures, and practices. Trauma-informed care centers on six core principles*:
Trauma-informed care creates physical and psychological safety for the people served and respects, through cultural humility, the individual’s definition of safety.
Trustworthiness & Transparency
Families, individuals, and communities are informed about and active participants in organizational operations and decisions.
The term “Peers” refers to survivors with the lived experience of trauma. Peer support and mutual self-help are essential in creating safety and hope, building trust, enhancing collaboration, and utilizing stories of lived experiences to promote recovery and healing.
Collaboration & Mutuality
Trauma-informed care does not create hierarchies of power, but instead levels power differentials between providers and those served. Everyone brings to the table unique insights and experiences of healing.
Empowerment/Self-Agency, Voice & Choice
Individuals’ strengths and experiences are at the forefront of care, as they are resilient from their survivorship and provide invaluable knowledge of healing. All people served are supported in shared decision-making, choice, and goal setting to determine the plan of action they need to heal and move forward. They are supported in cultivating self-advocacy skills.
Cultural, Historical, and Gender Considerations
It is essential that trauma-informed care recognizes the historical and ongoing oppression based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, age, religion, gender identity, geography, nation of origin, immigration status, etc. Trauma-informed care centers on healing through relationships and cultural connections. Policies, protocols, and processes must respond to the diverse needs of individuals serving by recognizing and addressing oppression.
*Six core principles of trauma-informed care adapted from SAMHSA‘s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma Informed Approach (2014), prepared by SAMHSA’s Trauma and Justice Strategic Initiative.