What Is Trauma-Informed Care?

What Is Trauma-Informed Care?

According to CDC data, 1 in 4 children experiences some form of trauma or abuse in their childhood. More sobering statistics indicate that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have experienced rape at some point in their lives. These numbers suggest that many people, male and female, young and old, have and will experience trauma in their lifetime.  

Treating Health in People with Trauma 

If you’ve ever gone to the doctor or been treated at an emergency room, you know that the entire scenario can feel incredibly invasive. Sensitive questions are often asked, intimate body parts may need to be examined, and the medical treatment may be uncomfortable and even painful. 

How can medical professionals provide quality healthcare to people who have experienced some form of trauma in their past? Through trauma-informed care. 

What is Trauma-Informed Care? 

Trauma-informed care is an approach to healthcare with a focus on safety, empowerment, and healing. This style of care is particularly helpful for sexual abuse survivors.  

Of course, a provider would never ask a prospective or new patient if they have experienced serious trauma in the past. Instead, it is simply assumed that each individual may have experienced some form of trauma and acted accordingly. This can mean many different things but typically it means clear and gentile communication. It means inviting the patient to speak to their needs if they need a break from a painful or embarrassing exam. It also means allowing a family member to be present during the exam if need be. 

The bottom line is, that trauma-informed care puts the mental and emotional needs on equal footing with a patient’s physical needs at that moment. It is an approach that requires compassion and a desire to heal the entire person. 


Somatic Meditation and Mindfulness for Trauma Treatment

While most people will experience challenges and hardship in their life, some people experience trauma. We’re beginning to understand trauma better now and have recognized that trauma is actually a physiological process that impacts our psychological and emotional wellbeing. When trauma is suppressed, it often leads to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and even PTSD.

While talk therapy can be effective at treating certain emotional and mental health issues, it can actually cause someone with trauma to re-experience their trauma. And when trauma survivors don’t have the emotional resources yet to process the trauma, talking or focusing on the event(s) of the trauma can send them into a state of confusion and hyper-arousal.

Trauma and the Nervous System

We have begun to understand that trauma exists in our body’s nervous system. When we experience acute or chronic trauma, our nervous system goes into “fight or flight” mode. To treat trauma, we must do so on a physical level by connecting with our bodies and allowing them to process and neutralize those unexpressed defensive fight or flight reactions.

If we do not allow our nervous systems to come back to a calm and neutral state, we are kept in a state of high arousal, and eventually, our nervous system becomes overwhelmed and shuts down. This is often when depression and PTSD symptoms present.

How Somatic Meditation Helps Heal Trauma

Somatic Meditation and Mindfulness help people suffering from the effects of trauma by getting them to become aware of the trauma in their body, without the need to recall the traumatic event(s). Somatic meditation teaches individuals how to release tension from the body, and therefore helps the nervous system release the trapped defensive energy.

If you’ve tried talk therapy and are interested in exploring these body-focused exercises, please get in touch with me. I would be very happy to discuss somatic meditation with you further and answer any questions you may have.


Dealing with Family Trauma Around the Holidays

The holidays are often a complex time for many people. On the one hand, there is a sense of joy in the air, while on the other hand, sorrow and grief because of either a loss or dysfunctional family dynamic.

The following are some ways you can deal with family trauma around the holidays.

Have an Escape Plan

It’s important to not isolate over the holidays. Being around loved ones who support and care for you can be a comfort. Having said that, you’ll also want to have a plan that will allow you to get away from crowds and holiday festivities when you feel yourself become triggered or emotional. This may mean you drive separately to an event so you can leave when YOU want and need. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and stick to them.

Feel Your Feelings

The holidays mean everyone is supposed to ‘put on a good face’ and act merry and jolly, right? No. It’s important to really feel your feelings, not ignore them or pretend they don’t exist. We can only heal from trauma by facing the full extent of our darkness. If you had plans to spend time with loved ones but suddenly feel angry, overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, do not deny these feelings and try to put on a good face so others have a good time. It’s better to gracefully bow out of the plans and be 100% genuine with your feelings. 

Make Self-Care a Priority

When we relive our trauma and deal with big emotions, it’s easy to let self-care slip and eat poorly, drink too much and get far too little sleep. Dealing with trauma takes energy and mental clarity, and that will require you to treat your heart, mind, AND body with gentleness and care.

You may also want to speak with someone during this time. A therapist can help you navigate your feelings and offer coping strategies. If you’d like to explore treatment options, please feel free to call or email me.