What Is Trauma-Informed Care?
Last updated: May 2023
Traumatic experiences can be life-changing, and it is well known such experiences can have long-term health effects. In addition to mental health challenges, traumatic experiences can lead to other health issues, such as addiction, heart disease, respiratory disease, and even cancer. While most doctors are able to easily spot physical illnesses in their patients, many do not consider how trauma might play a role.1
What is trauma-informed care?
Trauma-informed care is a different approach to healthcare. It factors in the possibility that a person may have experienced a previous traumatic event that could be contributing to current health concerns. It is an approach that emphasizes understanding, respecting, and responding to the effects of trauma. This understanding is then applied to all levels of of a person’s care.2
What are the benefits of trauma-informed care?
Trauma-informed care is an approach that can improve many aspects of a person’s health care because it:2
- Addresses any potential retraumatizing experiences
- Establishes an trauma care team
- Ensures commitment to a trauma-informed culture of care
- Conducts early, respectful trauma screening and assessment for all patients
- Involves doctors and their patients in the planning of care services
The 5 principles of trauma-informed care
Trauma-informed care follows 5 basic principles to guide healthcare providers in how to give trauma-informed care.2,3
- Safety – Creating spaces where patients feel physically and emotionally safe
- Choice – Patients have control over their care, and their experiences are respected
- Collaboration – Doctors and patients work together and share in the decision-making process
- Trustworthiness – Doctors are honest and clear when explaining treatment options and concerns about your care
- Empowerment – A person’s strengths are emphasized, rather than their weakness or issues stemming from their traumatic experiences
Things to consider
It is important to understand that trauma-informed care is not the same as trauma-specific care. It does not try to heal trauma or even address the specific trauma directly. Delivering trauma-informed care requires the commitment of all members of a healthcare team – from office staff to nurses to doctors – to provide compassionate, effective care for all people who have experienced past trauma.1
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