What is Trauma-Informed Care and Why is it Important for People with Disabilities
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities experience significantly higher rates of trauma than the general population. They are seven times more likely to be sexually abused and 2.5 times more likely to be victims of crime.1 In addition to their increased susceptibility to physical and emotional injury, they are also more likely to experience unfair treatment. By recognizing trauma symptoms and promoting an environment of healing and recovery in response to trauma, healthcare providers and care teams can radically improve the trajectory of an individual’s life. This is known as trauma-informed care.
Trauma-informed care is a treatment approach that recognizes the impact of past trauma on an individual and uses that information to provide better care. Embodying a communication style that asks, “what’s your story?” vs. “what’s wrong with you?”, Trauma-informed care shifts the focus away from fixing a behavior to becoming more aware that the behavior may be programmed into the individual as a result of trauma. The proven approach has emerged as one of the most effective ways to offer more nurturing interventions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Five Principles of Trauma-Informed Care
Trauma-informed care is guided by five simple principles designed to help care professionals restore a sense of safety, power, and self-worth when working with those with intellectual and developmental disabilities:
- Safety: Ensuring people feel physically and psychologically safe, both in terms of the physical setting and through interactions.
- Choice: Conveying a clear and appropriate message to individuals about their rights and giving them the opportunity to participate in activities that offer choice and control.
- Collaboration: Taking an inclusive approach that fosters a meaningful sharing of power and the decision-making process regarding services.
- Trustworthiness: Operating with transparency through clear and consistent policies, honest service delivery, and program-appropriate boundaries to establish trust between parties.
- Empowerment: Building self-esteem and skills by providing and environment where individuals feel validated and affirmed with every interaction.
By recognizing, understanding, and responding to the effects of trauma, care teams can help individuals find resilience in the face of adversity. Failing to do so can result in re-traumatization or even cause new trauma that significantly compromises a person’s ability to thrive. By following a treatment path that is informed by individuals’ past experiences and adopting an approach that conveys a strong sense of empathy and safety, providers and care teams can optimally support their health needs of those they serve and set them on a trajectory of healing.
Though many behavioral health and social service organizations have embraced trauma-informed practices, the approach has not made significant inroads among organizations that serve the disabled community. At CAU, we believe in the importance of taking a customized approach to addressing the unique needs of those with past traumas. With advanced training and expertise in trauma-informed care practices, our team knows how to spot signs of trauma others may not see. We integrate the principles of trauma-informed care into our every interaction with affected individuals to help them positively transform their lives.
For more information, contact us https://www.caunj.org/contact/