Those within the behavioral health and human services industry are probably familiar with or have at least heard the term “trauma-informed care” by now. This framework for care involves a fundamental shift in mindset from asking, “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?"
Trauma-informed care is whole person care, seeking to understand the client’s entire situation and history. And while the focus is often in the clinical care itself, adopting this approach requires core changes across the organization. Every employee at the organization is influential in the client experience, from the front desk receptionist who greets the client to the executive passing by in the hallway. This means that trauma-informed care needs to be adopted as the organization’s overarching mindset.
Benefits of Trauma-Informed Care
Trauma-informed care is about creating a conversation and building relationships. Whereas traditionally care has been more one-sided, trauma-informed care honors the client’s voice and creates a safe environment for the client to engage in this conversation and make choices about their own treatment and care. Just as much as a therapist might be providing care, the client is also taking an active role in making decisions about their treatment. Creating this partnership encourages the client to further engage in their own care, paving the way for better outcomes.
Getting Client Input in Your Processes
During a recent round table discussion, Liza Guroff from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing discussed the importance of having clients inform the framework for trauma-informed, resilience-oriented leadership. This approach helps break down many barriers between provider and client, further encouraging a true partnership and minimizing an “us versus them” type of mindset. There’s no one who can better inform you of what clients need and how clients are experiencing the care you provide than the clients themselves.
The first step in getting this important feedback is to identify clients who are able and willing to provide their insight. Most likely, this is someone who has gone through your care plan and is in a position to reflect back on what worked and what didn’t. For behavioral health leaders, it’s important to be receptive to this feedback and to create a sense of collaboration and mutuality. Sharing the power between providers, employees at different job levels, and clients can help foster the right environment for promoting productive conversation. Just as everyone at your organization takes an active role in providing a trauma-informed environment, everyone needs to be welcomed to share their insight.
Learn more about trauma-informed care as an organizational framework by viewing the full whitepaper above.