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Karen Johnson & Linda Henderson-Smith

Trauma-Informed Services

CCBHCs: Are you embracing the urgency to become trauma-informed?

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Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) are poised to revolutionize behavioral health care and strengthen services for those who most need them. Organizations are preparing to meet CCBHC requirements in the areas of finance, service delivery and partner collaboration.

CCBHCs aren’t business as usual. They’re a new provider type in Medicaid— organizations defined not just by the comprehensive array of services they provide, but by their focus on trauma-informed care, recovery and wellness. That means trauma isn’t just one more box to check to meet CCBHC requirements: it’s a foundation for all the work a CCBHC does.

Consider some of the CCBHC requirements related to trauma-informed care:

  • CCBHC staffing must include, “individuals with expertise in addressing trauma and promoting the recovery” of both children and adults.
  • CCBHCs must regularly provide staff with training about evidence-based and trauma-informed care.
  • When conducting client evaluations, CCBHCs are encouraged to screen for behavioral health history, including trauma history.

To meet these criteria, organizations must consider a number of organizational changes: hiring practices that seek to recruit and retain staff with trauma expertise; integration of a trauma focus into ongoing trainings for all staff; and provider-client interactions that begin with and are informed by an understanding of that client’s trauma history. At the end of the day, these changes ensure that CCBHCs will truly be trauma-informed organizations.

Why is it important?

Trauma is a near universal experience of individuals with behavioral health challenges. Unfortunately, trauma is too often shrouded in secrecy and its impact is often ignored and misunderstood. When we fail to ask about and address trauma and our services are not built on the emerging science around what trauma survivors need to heal and recover, we risk re-traumatizing the people we serve. Trauma-informed care is the path to ensuring we honor this most sacred promise, and offers great potential for effectively partnering with our clients to help them move forward in their recovery and wellness. The good news is that this model not only strengthens the individuals we serve, but our organizations overall. For example, a trauma-informed organization ensures that all staff, including your peer providers (a CCBHC staffing requirement), can work in a safe and secure environment that doesn’t re-traumatize them.

What does it mean to be trauma-informed? 

According to SAMHSA—and reiterated in the CCBHC guidance–a trauma-informed approach reflects adherence to six key principles rather than a prescribed set of practices or procedures. These principles may be generalizable across multiple types of settings, although terminology and application may be setting- or sector-specific:

  1. Safety
  2. Trustworthiness and transparency
  3. Peer support
  4. Collaboration and mutuality
  5. Empowerment, voice and choice
  6. Cultural, historical, and gender issues

An organization that reflects these principles in all policies and procedures and every interaction with clients, staff, volunteers, board members and community partners, is well positioned to successfully meet the trauma-informed care requirements of a CCBHC.

Are you ready to embrace the urgency to become trauma-informed?  If so, email Sharday Lewis at to discuss how you can develop plans to meet the trauma-informed care requirements to be a CCBHC.