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  • Writer's pictureTreat Yourself Well

What is a 'trauma-informed' practice?

Trauma, complex trauma and developmental trauma

Trauma is the emotional, psychological and physiological effect from heightened stress that comes with experiences of threat, violence and life challenging events.

Whether it is a single traumatic event, long lasting /  complex trauma and/ or developmental trauma, (adverse experiences during early childhood) we now know its impact. Awareness and understanding of trauma has increased over the past 20 years outlining and highlighting the connections between the brain and body and highlighting the importance of a trauma informed approach to care.

The knowledge base surrounding neurobiology, relationships and trauma has shown us that trauma impacts the way our brain is wired, how it works, our body, emotions, memory, learning, behaviour, our relationship with self and others.

Trauma interrupts the connections between our the way our body works and brain and mind think and relate. Positive experiences help us to become connected and we recover from trauma when our body, brain and mind are connected again or reintegrated.

Trauma Informed Practice is a strengths-based framework which is founded on five core principles (Fallot & Harris 2009Kezelman & Stavropoulos 2012)

1. Safety – supporting you to feel physical and emotionally safe in your interactions

2. Trustworthiness – to feel safe we need trust. This takes time and requires the following to be established early and maintained throughout

3. Choice – provide opportunities for choice to build trust, safety and empower you in your healing and recovery

4. Collaboration – working together, not “for” you

5. Empowerment – recognising and building on skills and strengths, being involved in planning, implementation and evaluation will lead you to feeling a sense of control and feeling empowered.

Trauma Informed Practice means that we:

  • Are committed to the 5 principles

  • Emphasise physical and social safety for all

  • Understand the role and impacts of trauma, complex trauma and developmental trauma

  • Apply this understanding to how supports are designed to minimise re-traumatisation

  • Affirm skills, strengths and abilities and build on these

  • Recognise the importance of respect, hope and the healing power of connection

It is the way in which therapy is provided that is trauma informed.

Healing from interpersonal trauma occurs in relationship, in a safe, trusting and validating environment.

The relational context within which healing occurs is critical to recovery.


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