Importance of Trauma-Informed Care
- Less Risk of Re-traumatization
- Ability to See Beyond Diagnoses
- Whole Body Care
- Depth of Compassion
- Sense of Safety
As the devastating impacts of mental, sexual, emotional, physical, and psychological trauma come to light through recent books and studies, clients may seek the expertise of a trauma-informed therapist. Therapists trained to recognize and treat the signs of trauma create better outcomes for clients presenting problems that on the outset appear to be unrelated to trauma. Here are just a few ways that trauma-informed therapy can have a positive impact on the therapist-client relationship.
1. Less Risk of Re-traumatization
When an individual has suffered trauma, she is more likely to experience harm again through any experience that in some way repeats or recalls the feelings of that trauma. This is similar to a bodily injury, like a concussion. While an individual is healing from a concussion, she should be protected from further harm to that part of her head to prevent a worse injury. It is unlikely that the therapist or other care-providers would cause such harm on purpose, but an ignorance of the signs and impact of trauma can lead an uninformed counselor to minimize or clumsily probe the traumatic experience leading to re-traumatization. A trauma-informed therapist will treat the traumatized client with expert care and gentleness to avoid further harm.
2. Ability to See beyond Diagnoses
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services cites the research of Dr. Judith Herman regarding Borderline Personality Disorder. Dr. Herman suggests that clients diagnosed with this stigmatized condition are treated poorly by care-providers and the underlying trauma that creates their symptoms is disastrously overlooked. This is one example of a common diagnosis that is often confused with the effects of sexual, emotional, or physical trauma. While many care-providers make assumptions about their client based on a previous diagnosis, the trauma-informed therapist stays vigilant to signs of trauma within each client, creating the possibility of adequate care and healing.
3. Whole Body Care
Trauma-informed therapists understand that healing from trauma requires a holistic approach that incorporates body movement along with traditional talk therapy. There are a range of body-focused therapies that are appropriate for clients who have suffered trauma including trauma-informed yoga and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Therapists with knowledge of trauma treatments can either become certified in these methods themselves or can refer clients to other providers who will be able to do the necessary work with the client.
4. Depth of Compassion
Clients who have experienced trauma often feel isolated and misunderstood. There are few places where they can talk about their experiences without fear of judgment. Unfortunately, therapy offices have far too often been places where clients continue to feel this isolation when attempting to talk about traumatic events in their lives. Trauma-informed therapists understand the depth of what the client has experienced and seeks to create a open environment where the client is met with compassion and understanding.
5. Sense of Safety
Trauma-focused therapies hone in on creating a safe environment for the client and empowering the client to live life with a sense of personal safety. As such, trauma-informed therapists do not push the client to do or say too much too quickly. Instead, they respect the client’s own pace towards healing.
Understanding trauma deepens a therapist’s empathy and knowledge for working with troubled clients. Trauma-informed therapists can be a crucial factor in facilitating successful recovery.