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What is Trauma-Informed Care?

Trauma-Informed care (TIC) is a strengths-based, person-centred approach to healthcare that recognizes the impact of trauma on individuals and communities. Trauma has many forms and can be experienced differently across individuals, communities, and cultures. TIC recognizes that trauma can have a profound and lasting impact on a person’s physical, emotional, and mental health. Conventional healthcare approaches may not be sufficient to address these complex needs. In addition, patients with a history of traumatic life events can be re-traumatized as a result of their healthcare experiences. A TIC approach, therefore, prioritizes safety, choice, autonomy, and minimizing distress for individuals who have experienced trauma and works to create a supportive and non-threatening environment for those seeking care.

Women and individuals in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are often disproportionately affected by trauma, including intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. For women, trauma can have a profound impact on their physical, emotional, and mental health and can increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Women who have experienced trauma may also face barriers in accessing care, including a lack of safe and welcoming healthcare environments and providers who lack knowledge or training on the impact of trauma.

Individuals in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community also experience high rates of trauma, including hate crimes, discrimination, and rejection from family and community. The effects of trauma can be compounded by the additional stigma and discrimination they may face in accessing healthcare services.

In practical terms, TIC involves adopting a trauma-aware culture and implementing policies and practices that promote safety, resiliency, and recovery for individuals who have experienced trauma. For CAYA Health Centre, this includes training staff to recognize and respond to the effects of trauma, creating a safe and welcoming environment, and focusing on the strengths and resources of individuals rather than solely on their problems or diagnoses.

“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.”

– the Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk