Become Trauma-informed to Understand the Challenges Faced by Trauma Survivors

Does your clinic have patients who are chronic no-shows, do not follow through with treatment plans or show emotional reactivity? These are just a few of the behavioral hurdles providers may face in treating someone who either has or is currently experiencing trauma.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), those who have experienced traumatic life events are often very sensitive to situations that remind them of the people, places or things involved in their traumatic event. These reminders—also known as triggers—may cause a person to relive the trauma and view the health care setting as a source of distress rather than a place of healing and wellness.

Being Trauma-informed Goes Beyond Prevention
According to the landmark Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACEs), a profound connection exists between adverse childhood events and long-term negative health outcomes. In response to this study, InterCommunity Health Network CCO is currently implementing a pilot aimed toward prevention. Unfortunately, prevention doesn’t help those that have already experienced trauma from neglect that can include: household substance abuse; verbal, physical or sexual abuse; parental separation or divorce; household mental illness; domestic violence; or the incarceration of a family member.

Trauma is pervasive. It affects how people approach services because often the service system has been re-traumatizing. To reverse the trends toward negative outcomes, service providers can consider how these traumatic events may be affecting their patients and the delivery of care.

How to Become Trauma-informed
A trauma-informed person or organization understands the vulnerabilities or triggers of trauma survivors that traditional service delivery approaches may exacerbate. They use their understanding to create safe environments and supportive processes that avoid re-traumatization. It involves switching from a mindset of asking, “What is wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”

The statewide collaborative Trauma Informed Oregon provides many resources for health and behavioral health care providers, community partners, and family and youth organizations. They can get you started with best practices, screening, education, and how to build organization capacity.

The Steps That InterCommunity Health Network CCO Is Taking to Be Trauma-informed
At InterCommunity Health Network CCO, we are committed to ensuring our organization becomes trauma-informed. As part of our 2015-2017 Transformation Plan, we will be undertaking a process of self-assessment and identification of organizational actions and opportunities that will promote and support a trauma-informed health care system.

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