Trauma-informed practice principles
Development of these principles
The principles for trauma-informed practice were suggested by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration in the USA (SAMHSA 2014) and are internationally recognised, although sometimes the wording is changed a little. While developed for use in a specific service context, they can and do apply universally when thinking about trauma informed practice.
The principles relate to everybody. This includes children, young people and families who are seeking support or input of some kind. It also includes people who work in settings or organisations that offer some sort of help or support, be that healthcare, social care, educational or community-based provision.
These principles are important because they create experiences that are the opposite to those experiences that leave a traumatic impact. They help to create a lens through which to look at and reflect on our practice and to think about how we can deepen and extend a trauma informed approach.
Taking care that people feel physically and emotionally safe; creating reasonable freedom from threat or harm; seeking to avoid things that could cause further harm to someone who has already experienced adversity and trauma. This provides safety instead of danger and threat, the opposite to during times of adversity.
Taking time to build and maintain trust between people; policies, procedures, decisions and communications all aiming to be clear and transparent and reliable. This offers trust and transparency instead of betrayal.
Ensuring that people have a voice in decision making within an organisation, that the expertise of people with lived experiences is integrated in planning and delivering services. This facilitates being heard instead of silenced, as during times of adversity.
Working and making decisions together, creating meaningful choice, reducing power differences between people. This provides collaboration and connection instead of coercion and isolation.
Recognising, building on and validating strengths; holding the belief that people can heal from the impact of trauma. This creates empowerment rather than the opposite, oppression and control.
Biases and stereotypes are recognised and addressed; experiences of prejudice and historical trauma are validated and addressed; culturally-attuned responses are offered. This brings respect for identity rather than marginalization.
Isn’t this what we already do?
When you look at the principles, this might be what you think because yes, you absolutely will be addressing many of these things to some extent. It’s really important to recognize the ways in which your way of doing things already fits with a trauma informed approach – these are things to nuture and to celebrate. But there will also be things you are doing that don’t fit with these principles, some things you could avoid, adapt or stop doing altogether. And there will also be more you could do: things to start doing and to spread into new areas of your work.
What does trauma informed practice involve?
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