Trauma Informed Practice…… A new way forward

Trauma Informed Practice…A new way forward

Early on in my Child and Youth Work practice I came across the book “Scattered Minds” by a little-known Canadian doctor named Gabor Mate. You might recognize the name, in the years since he has revolutionized the fields of developmental trauma and addictions with his latest book being “The Myth of Normal”. Around the same time a book by the author Dr.  Lenore Terr came across my path and I read with apt fascination about this impactful human phenomenon that both Dr. Mate and Dr. Terr spoke of: trauma.

Fast forward in my career 23 years (give or take) and the subject of trauma is more alive in my world than ever. You may have seen a lot about the new mental health services at Branching Out being “trauma informed”. This is the gift of all those years of study and work in the field of trauma informed counselling.

When we define trauma from the lens of Trauma Informed Care we understand that trauma is NOT an incident, situation or event. There are things in our lives that happen that are most definitely big, bad and scary. But depending on your culture, personality, genetics and resiliency skills each person will respond/react to these big, bad and scary situations in different ways. When the brain become completely overwhelmed by something big, bad and scary our evolutionary patterning kicks in and as humans we develop ONGOING body and mental response/reactions to the big, bad, scary thing.

Trauma is not the event – trauma is the ongoing body and internal response to the event. You know these sensations: the palm sweating, short breath, irritability that comes along with something that reminds you (triggers) of the event. The event is over – but the body response remains, sometimes for the rest of a person’s life.

What does all of this mean for our work in the fields of neurodivergency and mental health? It means that as practitioners and support professionals we show up to each session, groups or engagement with the knowledge that the people we serve have experienced / are experiencing the ongoing effects of an overwhelming situation (trauma) and that we too have experienced are living with trauma. With this knowledge we aim our sights on doing no more harm – causing no more trauma. We act with more safety, mindfulness and openness in our skill set. We empower people back to a sense of safety within themselves.

“Trauma informed practice” is not a buzz word – it’s the new way forward. Because we know with a trauma informed lens, we are able to move forward with greater ease, transparency and a different way of communication about the things we have experienced. We also deeply investigate the connection between body and mind. 

When we can see each other in our most human form – forms that have been hurt – we can design and imagine a way forward in healing. We are also able to live in a construct where we can acknowledge that big, bad, scary things happen to people – it is the natural way of the world. But as much as we know about how and why trauma happens; we know too about the natural inclination for humans to want to move towards healing and equilibrium in their lives. This is one of the crucial reasons why mental health services with a deep understanding of trauma are not only innovative but essential.

For more on Trauma Informed Leadership training for your staff or clinical teams please reach out to [email protected]