Trauma Informed Care: What it is and why it works
Mental Health Care Providers are in a much better position than they’ve ever been. Not only are the weighted stigmas surrounding mental illness decreasing, but there’s also unprecedented accessibility to finding the help one needs (including a marked surge in online support). With both the quality and variety of Support Services at an all-time high, it’s fair to also acknowledge the positive advancement in the restructuring of support approaches.
One approach revolutionizing the mental health landscape is ‘Trauma Informed Care’ – by incorporating it, forward-thinking Healthcare Providers have shifted the focus from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”. The emphasis on building a clear picture of a patient’s past and current life situation means that care can be guided towards long-term healing, with far better results. It’s true to say that without acknowledging this perspective, Health Care Providers cannot effectively provide help.
TRAUMA IS A HUMAN CONDITION
Everyone experiences trauma at some point in their life – either in childhood, or by some significant life event. But because humans are so smartly built to adapt, trauma tends to move us into survival mode. In order to mask any traumatic residue, we either deny, bury, or hide from our trauma, or, when at best we acknowledge it, we certainly don’t have the tools to understand the extent of the damage caused or deal with the effects on our physical or mental state of being. Until it catches up and we have no choice.
The problem is that trauma – however small or big – always finds a way to rear its ugly head. It disguises itself behind low self-esteem, presenting as an eating disorder or addiction, anxiety or depression, isolation, exhaustion, confusion, and the list goes on.
EMPOWERING THE PATIENT
Rather than being told by a doctor what they should or should not do, a trauma-informed approach is one that is designed to empower the patient, making them feel as if they are in control of their own treatment. It is critical that the approach is a collaborative one, which fulfils another principle of trauma informed care, and that is choice. Giving someone the power to decide is a strong motivator for healing. Empowerment is the very thing that leads a patient to better engagement with both care providers and any prescribed treatments. Ultimately, this means healthcare professionals can do more to support their patients.
PEER SUPPORT IS VITAL
A vital component of Trauma Informed Care is peer support. People who have experienced something traumatic often feel alone, different from the rest – which is why so many people dealing with trauma tend to do whatever it takes to ‘fit in’.
By bringing individuals with shared experiences together, they tend not to feel ‘broken’ and by integrating them into an organization makes them feel part of something bigger. This key component also has a ripple effect on preventing the re-emergence of other potentially traumatic experiences.
Although simple in approach, Trauma Informed Care is changing the face of mental health by enabling healthcare providers to make great strides in support programmes that are fit for long-term health and wellness.
Reach out for help:
LIVE LIFE WELL!
Article by: Nikki Munitz
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