Recognizing Different Types of Trauma
“Trauma-informed” means recognizing that people often have many different types of trauma in their lives. People who have been traumatized need support and understanding from those around them. Often, trauma survivors can be re-traumatized by well-meaning caregivers and community service providers. Understanding the impact of trauma is an important first step in becoming a compassionate and supportive community (TIC Project).
Trauma-Informed Systems Change Toolkit
SCCADVASA’s Trauma-Informed Systems Change Toolkit was developed as part of the Trauma-Informed Systems Change Project, an 18-month partnership between the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA) and the American Institutes for Research (AIR).
The Toolkit provides domestic violence and sexual assault organizations with tools for adopting a universal, trauma-informed approach. Divided into four sections, each section has specific tools and resources that are relevant to the topic area. The structure of the toolkit is intended to provide agencies with an organizing framework and materials for supporting the change process. The Toolkit also includes a compilation of materials for supporting trauma-informed organizational capacity-building, including materials developed specifically for this project, as well as other relevant curricula and resources. Organizations should modify materials as needed to best suit their context and needs.
Questions about trauma-informed service delivery or systems of care? Contact SCCADVASA today for assistance or to schedule a training.
What does a Trauma-Informed Domestic or Sexual Violence Agency Look Like?
Becoming a trauma-informed organization requires an agency-wide commitment to recognizing the effects of trauma on the service environment and responding in ways that promote healing and resilience. Often this calls for changes across all dimensions of service delivery- from how the workforce is trained and supported, to how survivors are engaged, to the choice of services offered, and to the way in which those services are delivered.
Adopting a universal approach to addressing trauma is a multi-phased journey that moves from exploring readiness and capacity to implementing and sustaining new practices, processes, and policies. This process is cyclical with no clear end. Agencies should constantly be assessing, adopting, and evaluating processes, tools, and practices as the agency continually improves and changes with the populations they serve.
Trauma-informed organizations strive to have survivor-focused practices, such as:
- Welcoming physical environments
- Rapport-building prior to intake and assessments
- Pro-actively offering translation and interpretation, even before it’s requested
- Flexible definition of a victim
- Clients set their own goals
- Flexible shelter rules to accommodate individual needs
- Opportunities for peer sharing and peer learning from survivors who have gone through the programs your organization offers
- Opportunities to give anonymous and non-anonymous programmatic and organizational feedback
- Focus on building resilience and not solely on the trauma event(s)
Trauma-informed organizations strive to have clear organizational policies and procedures, such as:
- Clearly defined job descriptions, roles, and performance goals for staff and volunteers
- Regular staff and volunteer supervision with accountability checks
- Annual staff performance reviews with merit-based pay
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
- Informal and formal staff recognition and activities
- Flexible leave policies
- All staff, volunteers, and board members are trained immediately upon hire and on an annual basis on the topics such as the brain’s reaction to trauma and TI organizational practices
- Varied caseloads
- Non-discrimination policies and practices
- Safe language use
- Relationships with culturally specific organizations, organizations that serve marginalized communities, and organizations that provide services for intersecting issues, such as:
- Mental Health Organizations
- Disabilities Organizations
- Faith Communities
- Organizations for LGBTQ+ and Allies
- Organizations for Ethnic and Racial Minorities
- Criminal Justice Organizations
- Homeless Organizations
- Substance Abuse Organizations
- Processes for regularly assessing agency policy and procedures for TIC-alignment
TIC Toolkit Resources Overview
All files can be found in Coalition Manager.
Becoming a trauma-informed organization requires an agency-wide commitment to recognizing the effects of trauma on the service environment and responding in ways that promote healing and resilience. Often this calls for changes across all dimensions of service delivery, from how the workforce is trained and supported, to how survivors are engaged, to the choice of services offered, and to the way in which those services are delivered.
Adopting a universal approach to addressing trauma is a multi-phased journey that moves from exploring readiness and capacity to implementing and sustaining new practices, processes, and policies. Establishing the infrastructure for supporting and sustaining change from the beginning, such as formal assessment processes, work groups, and concrete action plans, helps organizations to maintain focus in the midst of competing demands.
Creating a safe, supportive, and respectful environment is essential in any service setting. Survivors are not successful in environments where they do not feel physically and emotionally safe, heard, and respected. Trauma-informed programs strive to eliminate re-traumatizing practices, to recognize and minimize potential trauma reminders/triggers, and to create service environments that foster physiological regulation and felt sense of safety and respect.
Adopting a trauma-informed approach to service delivery in DV/SA programs means ensuring that all plans for survivors consider trauma and trauma-related needs, that survivors and their families have access to trauma-specific clinical interventions as needed, that all services are provided in a trauma-informed manner, and that there is a process for gathering ongoing feedback from survivors about specific services that they receive. A trauma-informed agency ensures that relationship-building with survivors is informed by an understanding of trauma and resilience; incorporates processes for monitoring the quality of program engagement with survivors; embeds culturally responsive practices; and regularly offers survivors the opportunity to provide feedback about and input in to shaping the type and quality of program services.
A trauma-informed DV/SA organization ensures that its workforce is prepared to address the trauma-related needs of all survivors and their families. Agencies build a trauma-informed workforce by educating all staff on trauma and related topics; building staff capacity to engage with survivors in a trauma-informed manner; monitoring staff understanding and application of trauma concepts; recognizing and addressing secondary trauma; providing trauma-informed supervision; and creating a supportive culture.
Other Useful Links
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- The National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health
- The Office for Victims of Crime’s Vicarious Trauma Toolkit
Need additional resources or technical assistance? Contact SCCADVASA today or more information about how to create trauma-informed services or systems.