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  • Writer's pictureVanessa de Souza

What is a "Trauma-Informed Approach"?

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

We hear the term "trauma-informed approach" used in a lot of different spaces, but what does it actually mean?

Trauma is more than the physical impact on our bodies during major accidents, natural disaster, or physical/sexual assualt. Trauma can be identified as the long-lasting emotional, cognitive, social, spiritual and/or physical effect on an individual after a distressing event. Acknowledging these effects can help our clients navigate their experiences and validate the widespread impact trauma can have on a person's wellbeing.

If the effects of trauma don't go away or worsen over time, they may lead to what's referred to as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD significantly disrupt's a person's mood, ability to regulate their emotions, and maintain healthy relationships.

There are Six Principles to the Trauma-Informed Approach:

1. Safety

The emotional, physical, psychological, social and moral safety of our individuals and service providers must be identified. We are committed to exploring with our clients and our associates what safety means to them so that we are creating safety for folks who have different experiences from our own. Establishing safety can include building rapport, or pausing in session to practice containment or mindfulness.

2. Trustworthiness & Transparency

Creating a culture of trustworthiness starts with how our client's and service providers needs are addressed. This takes a lot of time and effort, however we are committed to building trust through empathy, connection and transparency. Withholding information is not part of a trauma-informed approach, therefore, we pride ourselves on being transparent about fees, role and responsibility, availability, and the limits of confidentiality. We invite our clients to let us know if the therapeutic relationship is not the right fit so we can try to accommodate you or work with you to find someone better suited to your needs.

3. Choice

Accessing professional mental health services requires courage. If folks are reaching out for help, they're often at a point in which they feel lost or out of control in their lives. In our approach, clients are empowered in making choices throughout the therapy process. They can choose what their goals are in therapy, how often they see a therapist and for how long. Having choice is often a priviledge if we've experienced past trauma that involved coercison because there were limited options available. Freedom to choose is empowering and invites a more positive way of living.

4. Collaboration

We walk alongside our clients in order to dismantle hierarchies and power dynamics. Our clients lead us in their recovery journeys, meaning that we work with you at your own pace. Therapy is hard work and so opening up to someone requires time and patience from our therapists. We offer a different perspective, ask open-ended qustions and teach clients skills or strategies to help them reach their goals. All of this is done in collaboration with our clients and prioritizing your needs.

5. Empowerment

When meeting with clients for the first time, we immediately recognize that you are resilient for exisiting and surviving for as long as you have. We want to explore and harness your already existing strengths so we can develop a more solid foundation of coping strategies for the future, and shine a light on your inner wisdom. Hope that change is possible is an important message we want to send our clients. We are here to cheer you on and collaborate on a tailor-made appoach that utilizes your skills, strengths and is based in your values.

6. Culture and Gender

We honor, respect and value all individuals. Our approach actively utilizes anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices in order to dismantle cultural stereotypes and biases. These biases can be based on sexual orientation, geography, age, ethnicity and race. We aim to offer non-judgmental gender responsive services in our community. Recognizing the role of culture in healing, we hope to leverage traditional cultural connections and spirituality in our practice, should clients wish to explore their communities and faith. Furthermore, we recognize and address the impacts of historical trauma.

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