We are the “Champions”: Trauma-Informed Care

I was chosen to participate in a Trauma-Informed Care Learning Collaborative through OASAS from April through August.  We are known as “Champions” as we are hoping to help our agencies realize the importance of practicing trauma-informed care.  Most of the clients that we work with have experienced trauma and it is extremely important for MHA as an agency to be informed of the impact trauma has on people.  Trauma impacts and impairs people relationships, emotion regulation, physical and mental health, perceptions and beliefs and cognitive functioning (School of Social Work, University of Buffalo).  “Trauma-Informed Care calls for a change in organizational culture, where an emphasis is placed on understanding, respecting and appropriately responding to the effects of trauma at all levels” (Bloom, 2010).   The road to Trauma-Informed Care conducts early and respectful trauma screening and assessment for all, includes providers and provides in planning and evaluation of services, provides introductory training to all staff, addresses any potential retraumatizing policies and procedures, establishes an internal trauma team and ensures administrative commitment to integrating a trauma-informed culture (Fallot & Harris, 2001).   There are five guiding principles for trauma-informed care which include safety (staff and client’s), trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment (SAMSHA, 2014).  As an agency it is important that we do not retraumatize our clients, which is why becoming Trauma-Informed is so important.  “When an event is traumatic, it may negatively impact individuals, organizations and systems of care on multi-levels.  Trauma-Informed Care is about ensuring all individuals feel physically and emotionally safe, are noticed and listened to, and are given a voice”. (ITTIC, 2014).  It is my hope, as a “Champion” that I can help bring about the change in our agency to become Trauma-Informed as I think this will help us to better serve our clients and will aid in our client’s success.

Brianne Fegarsky, Recovery Services