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Cheryl Sharp

Senior Advisor for Trauma-Informed Services

Bringing Trauma-informed Care to Scale

November 20, 2014 | Mental Health Treatment | Comments
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“Trauma-informed care is a hot issue these days. Everybody is talking about it… but not everyone knows exactly what it is or exactly what it takes to do it well. So that’s why we’re here.”

With those words, Carmela DeCandia, Director of the National Center on Family Homelessness at the American Institutes of Research, kicked off a recent trauma-informed care panel hosted by AIR.

According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, trauma is a risk factor for a range of mental and physical health disorders, including several of the nation’s leading causes of death. Because it’s so prevalent, trauma must be a core focus of mental health and addiction services.

A SAMHSA concept paper regarding trauma-informed care clearly shows that there’s a process involved in incorporating trauma into the culture of service systems. As a national consultant on trauma-informed care, I can say with certainty that providers are always becoming trauma-informed — there is no end place. It is exactly that: a process.

And it’s different from trauma-specific services. Rather than services directly reacting to trauma, trauma-informed care is the mindfulness of trauma in every aspect of a provider organization’s culture. From educating service providers to informing security staff to completing self-assessments and promoting peer leadership, organizations like Women In Need are finding new ways to become trauma-informed. These activities enable organizations to respond to trauma in a more proactive and understanding way.

Teamwork, flexibility during the learning process and sustainability of implementation are key to success. While many organizations already have the knowledge, trauma-informed care education can frame that knowledge so that clients can see, feel, and taste the culture of a service organization as soon as they walk through the doors.

To learn more about the National Council’s work on trauma-informed care, click here. Or better yet, ask your questions and share your thoughts below!