Trauma-informed care is becoming more and more important in our society. As we learn more about the effects of trauma on individuals, we are beginning to understand the importance of trauma-informed practice in all aspects of life. This includes schools. A trauma-informed approach can be used in primary schools to help children who have experienced trauma. This article will discuss the importance of trauma-informed practice and how it can be used in our schools!
Trauma in Children
Traumatic events can take many forms and may result from natural or human-induced accidents or activities. Trauma is typically divided into two categories:
> Type 1 trauma includes one-time happenings or short episodes.
> Meanwhile, Type 2 trauma (also called complex/developmental trauma) involves long-lasting occurrences such as continued neglect, abuse, separation from family members and other bad experiences which tend to occur within the context of relationships.
Many epidemiological studies conducted in the United States have ascertained the long-term impacts of ten Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on life expectancy and physical/mental health. These findings are both concerning and enlightening, as they provide insight into how we can better support individuals facing adversity in childhood.
The ACE study divides these experiences into two distinct entities: child maltreatment (including verbal, physical and sexual abuse; emotional and physical neglect) and household adversity (such as mental illness; domestic violence; alcohol or drug use; incarceration of a family member or parental separation). Shockingly enough, the research conducted by the ACE team showed that many participants quickly recalled adverse issues from their own lives.
Recent US and Welsh research conducted by the ACE studies has revealed that over half of survey participants experienced at least one significant childhood adversity. In contrast, a quarter experienced two or more. Shockingly 14% of Welsh and 9% of English respondents reported having gone through four or more adverse experiences in their youth.
So the question becomes, how can we work with young people who have experienced trauma and what steps can we take to stop them from falling behind?
The history of the trauma-informed approach
For over two decades, NAPAC has collected the stories of thousands of abuse survivors who have experienced terrifying and re-traumatising events in various health care and social service settings. Unfortunately, many of these individuals looked to those same services for support during their recovery or when trying to find justice – only to be let down.
In the UK, physical restrainment and forced treatment remain commonplace in many mental health units, psychiatric hospitals and prisons. Sadly, this can lead to survivors’ distress amplified by disbelief, coercion, manipulation of movement restriction feelings of shame or belittlement – all reminiscent of their harrowing experiences before seeking help. These experiences can be detrimental to a person’s potential for long-term recovery, as they may prevent or discourage them from ever reaching out for use in the future.
There has been an increasing acknowledgement in recent years of trauma and post-traumatic stress among a wide range of people in the USA and Australia. Sadly, many have endured chronic mistreatment or neglect during their childhoods, marginalisation, poverty, racism, violence or incarceration; plus numerous other events that left them traumatised. In addition, research has revealed that unresolved traumatic experiences could be the source of physical and mental ailments and overall emotional distress.
In the face of this reality, and due to an ever-growing population of survivors bravely speaking out about their traumatic experiences in public, health and social care services in the United States and Australia have started to build trauma-informed philosophies into their practices as well as systems.
Aims of a trauma-informed approach
The primary mission of the trauma-informed practice is to make everyone conscious of the far-reaching effects of trauma and to prevent service users from being re-traumatised in settings meant for support and healing. Moreover, it heightens awareness about vicarious trauma, which has been found to bring health risks to those who engage with traumatised clients frequently.
A trauma-informed organisation avoids contributing to the chronic stress people carry and works to prevent the replication of traumatic experiences or dynamics between clients and staff by taking an all-encompassing approach to its operations.
A trauma-informed program, organisation or system is designed to understand the pervasive impact of trauma and potential pathways for recovery. It acknowledges the signs and symptoms of trauma displayed by clients, family members, staff members, and all others connected with the system. Moreover, it incorporates knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures and practices to actively prevent any re-traumatisation.
Fundamental of a trauma-informed perspective
The organisation’s staff and the people they serve deserve to feel mentally and physically secure. Our physical environment is safe, while our interactions cultivate a sense of security.
Openness and Integrity
Organisations are conducted with openness and integrity to create and preserve trust among employees, customers, and the loved ones of customers alike.
Working together meaningfully is at the heart of collaboration in this organisation. All staff members, from direct care workers to administrators, are equal partners with clients and each other as they recognise that healing comes through sharing power and making decisions collectively.
By recognising, affirming and developing the strengths of individuals within our organisation and among those we serve, we can energise their potential to reach new heights. Through empowerment, we can create a supportive environment in which everyone’s skills have an opportunity for growth.
The organisation strives to empower staff, clients, and their families with the freedom of choice. They understand that every individual’s experience is unique and requires a tailored solution.
For those with mental health diagnoses, recognising that their symptoms may be connected to traumatic experiences from childhood instead of any innate “defects” or “disorders” can ignite a powerful sense of strength and healing. This is why trauma-informed approaches steer practitioners towards asking clients, “What happened to you?” rather than “What’s wrong with you?” – creating an environment where individuals feel empowered by their resilience in overcoming adversities they have faced.
We pray that the conversations about trauma’s collective effects and how to assist people who have experienced it become much more widespread. Recent data from a World Health Organisation survey revealed 70% of the global population has encountered at least one traumatic event—and typically 3.2 traumas in life—underscoring why we must raise awareness on this subject matter and strengthen our understanding of its repercussions.
Trauma-informed approaches provide an essential framework for understanding the effects of traumatic experiences and how to assist people in recovering from them. By implementing a trauma-informed approach and encouraging conversations about trauma’s collective impacts, we can empower individuals with a renewed sense of strength and resilience and create safe environments where all can freely express their thoughts and feelings. In doing so, we can create a brighter future where all individuals can reach their fullest potential.
What is a trauma-informed approach?
A: A trauma-informed approach considers the effects of traumatic experiences and incorporates knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures and practices to actively prevent any re-traumatisation. It involves creating safe environments, encouraging conversations about collective impacts, and providing tailored support for those who have experienced trauma.
What does “tailored solutions” mean in the context of a trauma-informed approach?
A: Tailored solutions refer to the organisation’s approach of recognising that every individual’s experience is unique and requires a tailored solution. This involves understanding their symptoms may be connected to traumatic experiences from childhood or other adversities and providing support tailored to their individual needs.
What is the role of direct care workers in a trauma-informed approach?
A: Direct care workers are vital partners with clients and other staff members in a trauma-informed approach, as they recognise that healing comes through sharing power and making decisions collectively. They also work to empower individuals by recognising their resilience, strengths, and potential to reach new heights. They actively prevent re-traumatisation by understanding the effects of trauma and creating an environment where all can safely express their thoughts and feelings.
How does a trauma-informed approach help create a brighter future?
A: By implementing a trauma-informed approach, we can empower individuals with a renewed sense of strength and resilience, create safe environments where all can freely express their thoughts and feelings, and provide tailored support for those who have experienced trauma. This will help to ensure that all individuals can reach their fullest potential and create a brighter future.
What data was revealed in the World Health Organisation survey?
A: The World Health Organisation survey revealed that an astounding 70% of the global population has encountered at least one traumatic event—and typically 3.2 traumas in life—underscoring why we must raise awareness on this subject matter and strengthen our understanding of its repercussions.