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  • Sara

How Trauma-Informed Practices Can Be Multi-Disciplinary

Trauma-informed care has become more and more prevalent over the years and is incredibly important for treating patients as a whole person and not just their most immediate and obvious medical concerns. When it comes to trauma-informed care, it’s important to understand that not all trauma is the same. There are different types of traumas, and each type can impact a person in different ways. That’s why it’s important to have a trauma-informed approach to care that is tailored to the individual.

This type of care recognizes that people are more likely than not to have experienced trauma in their lifetime and that can impact many health factors down the road. If a patient has experienced trauma, they might respond differently to medical care, be more skeptical or distrustful towards healthcare professionals, be less likely to open up about their concerns, and more.

One type of trauma is called single-incident trauma. This is when a person experiences a traumatic event that is isolated and not part of a pattern of repeated trauma. An example of single-incident trauma would be a car accident or a natural disaster. The person was thrust into this disaster likely without warning or time to prepare. There was likely a lot of physical damage to their property, perhaps loss of life, and their sense of safety has been compromised. This leads to mental and emotional damage as well. Restoring a general sense of safety, grieving losses and working through the aftermath to heal is going to take time.

Another type of trauma is complex trauma. This is when a person experiences multiple traumatic events, often of a prolonged or repeated nature. An example of complex trauma would be growing up in a household where there is domestic violence, then pursuing an abusive partnership in adulthood. These types of traumas are derived from unwitting patterns the individual has repeated. The reason for the repetition is generally that the individual is familiar with this type of environment and derives a level of safety in it even if it is not conducive to their health and well-being. In these cases, it is critical that the individual work with a therapist to identify unhealthy patterns and come up with ways to break them.

No matter what type of trauma a person has experienced, it’s important for a mental health professional to have a trauma-informed approach to care. This means being aware of the potential for trauma and taking steps to avoid re-traumatizing the individual. It also means providing support and resources that can help the individual heal from their trauma.

If you are someone who has experienced trauma, a lot of this might sound familiar to you. Not everyone who has a history of trauma is the same, but there are definitely some trends, and you should rest assured that there is an increasing number of professionals that have begun to adopt a trauma-informed approach to meet these needs.

Trauma-informed practices can be multi-disciplinary and any professionals that are working with people should be encouraged to include that as a part of their everyday work and interactions with others. Multi-disciplinary essentially means that it can be relevant to multiple fields of work. For example, trauma-informed care in a pediatric office is highly relevant and appropriate but trauma-informed practices in internal medicine,

mental health work, and even unrelated medical professions like dermatology are also equally appropriate. We never know what a person has gone through, and this lens provides us the opportunity to be welcoming and create a safe environment for all clients and patients that we encounter. Essentially, it shifts the conversation from “What is wrong with this person?” to “What has happened to this person?” This is the starting point from which productive conversations can take place to help the individual heal sustainability.

If you are a trauma survivor, I highly recommend seeking services from providers that make a point to let people know that they practice with trauma-informed care. Many therapists, doctors, and others will include this approach in their biography or information section of their practice. They also are open to talking about it during your first visit. Having a physician who respects your story and who is willing to remain open-minded is so incredibly important and affirming. This can make all the difference in the world between having or not having your needs met.

If you are unsure of where to start, one step could be to ask your friends or family who have also experienced trauma about their experiences with their doctors and whether they feel that their care has been adequate in terms of respecting its effects. You can also write down any questions prior to your visit and make a point to touch on what’s important to you. Of course, if you don’t realize that you’ve been traumatized by something, your practitioner should be able to help you identify this and go from there. A trauma-informed clinician will be able to do this.

Always advocate of for yourself and remember that you deserve the best care possible!

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