There are many individuals who have faced experiences in life that qualify as a “traumatic event.” Trauma can be described as a physiological and psychological wound. Trauma is a reaction to a perceived or real threat to one’s life or directly witnessing the death or serious harm toward another individual.
The process and exposure to trauma often feels like being knocked off your feet. It can take a while to get to the root of the trauma.
Awareness of one’s feelings, reactions, and recovery are essential to the process of interacting with others from a Trauma Informed Care approach.
What is Trauma Informed Care?
When seeking counseling to help with trauma, finding someone who understands how important it is to have empathy and compassion for the traumatic experiences is essential to healing.
Trauma Informed Care means that you will get to work with a counselor who is willing to meet you where you are and direct you through the trauma journey.
Trauma Informed Care is more than a goal to obtain. It is a lifestyle and way of thinking. Beginning with its foundation, trauma informed care embraces the view that there may be many experiences which have caused trauma in one’s life. Each experience with trauma leaves its own mark and disrupts your feeling of being safe in the world.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2018), a Trauma Informed Care approach has many key approaches to overcome trauma. Some of these approaches are realizing that trauma has a widespread impact, recognizing symptoms related to trauma, and committing to learning about trauma and integrating this knowledge into practice (SAMHSA, 2018.)
Who Would Benefit from Trauma Informed Care and Why?
The benefits of trauma informed care are numerous. One of the greatest feelings is being seen, heard, and understood. Trauma Informed Care starts with illuminating the world when you have experienced trauma. The greatest benefit comes from being invited to partner towards growth, life, and recovery.
Per the Kaiser Permanente study on Adverse Childhood Experiences, known as ACE’s, 1 in 4 individuals have experienced an event that would meet criteria as causing trauma. However, unless there has been a sudden event, such as combat violence or a serious car accident, trauma is not often something we are immediately aware of.
It’s important to know that some of these experiences can be from early childhood where one may not be aware of the impact of trauma. Trauma Informed Care recognizes that all are impacted differently and react uniquely to their own experiences.
Therefore, the benefits of Trauma Informed Care are helpful to all. When thinking about finding help from a counselor, often you want to know that the professional you are seeking can understand you from more than just a surface level. The signs that will tell you that you’ve found that individual include someone who can empathize with your needs.
Trauma likes to rob you of those you feel most close to and tell you that you are all alone. The antidote to this is finding a mental health professional that can help reveal some of those distortions that trauma shares with you. This begins with compassion and a commitment to listen.
Compassion towards others and the scars left by trauma are key elements of Trauma Informed Care. Awareness of the needs and concerns of others builds empathy. Trauma Informed Care also communicates to others, “I see you’re hurting, I’m sensitive to your pain, and will guide you, as you are ready, to find your strength to overcome the past and find hope for tomorrow.”
Hope brings power that you are going to make it. Overall, Trauma Informed Care brings the benefit of slowly restoring your reason and desire to be strong again. The experiences that you have had or are facing with trauma undoubtedly have shaped who you are. However, they do not have to define who you are and who you will become.
What Impact Does Trauma Informed Care Provide?
Trauma Informed Care embraces trauma at its core and helps reveal some of the distortions mentioned earlier. These are feelings of shame, fear, anger, and guilt. These four are the “four horsemen” of trauma. They will try to destroy you and the world you know. Naming them begins to take away the power they hold. Awareness of these feelings helps begin the process of relief and recovery.
According to Psychology Today (2017), having a trauma informed care approach helps show that, when having experienced trauma, emotions are not always what one would expect. The impact of Trauma Informed Care provides help, hope, and healing by expressing empathy and being sensitive to the experiences of everyone.
Often when seeking support to overcome trauma, medical treatment feels sterile and impersonal. You go to your doctor and mention feeling down, disconnected from yourself, and having trouble sleeping and are given a prescription to “help you sleep” and find yourself having nightmares and feeling groggy from the medicine you’ve been given. Often, you feel your opinion and advocating for your own needs keeps falling on deaf ears.
Trauma Informed Care encourages connection and communication in navigating the trauma recovery battle. In my experience learning about being more sensitive to the needs of those who are experiencing or have experienced trauma, it begins with creating the space needed to hold and diffuse the energy that is caused. It often feels like a weight has been tied around your neck and you feel each day that you have to drag yourself around and put on a mask that says, “I’m fine, but if you really want to know, I’m not really.”
Trauma Informed Care is essential to building resilience for those who have a history of traumatic experiences. Overall, connecting individuals with trauma informed professionals ensures treating a whole person, considering past trauma, and their approach to facing trauma. Meeting individuals where they are in their trauma journey and communicating that they are safe and seen is essential to the recovery process.
The life of a trauma survivor is overshadowed by feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and worry for what the future brings and fear of being reminded of what is still in the past. However, there is hope in Jesus Christ and He gives us opportunities to find rest and peace in His grace.
A Christian Perspective of Trauma Informed Care
The New Living Translation of Psalm 107:13-16 says,
“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains.
Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he broke down their prison gates of bronze; he cut apart their bars of iron.”
Trauma Informed Care is rooted in answering the call of Jesus to care for those who are brokenhearted. Experiencing trauma is walking through, as referenced in Psalm 23, the “valley of the shadow of death.”
God sees us where we are in these moments and His heart breaks. God knows every tear shed, whether they fall from your eyes or your heart. There is not a moment where God is not present in your life.
The great poet Mary Fishback Powers, who is credited with the poem “Footprints in the Sand,” references a dream of walking with God on a sandy beach. The poem depicts at the lowest and saddest times seeing one set of footprints in the sand. She cries out to God, asking where He has been in those moments. God responds to her and says, “It was in those moments that I was carrying you.” This poem reminds us that God’s promises are true and He is faithful to those who are hurting.
Trauma Informed Care is a call for every Christian to bring hope to the broken. Lamentations 3:21-24 says, “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies are new every morning. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!’”
There are moments where you may feel that nobody could ever understand the pain you have experienced, and you have been abandoned by everyone. Those feelings are real, and they are part of your story.
However, God calls out to us in these moments and, as seen in Isaiah 41:10, says “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
We see that the love of the Lord is to restore joy to those who are brokenhearted. The Bible speaks greatly about God’s heart for those who feel crushed by the weight of the world. Altogether, there are 65 references in the Bible regarding God’s view on trauma and His faithfulness.
The Lord has compassion for us and loves us enough to give us a spirit of hope and peace. Trauma Informed Care rests in seeing you as a whole being, including how God views you through His eyes.
The experiences of Jesus with the death of His dear friend Lazarus informs us that Jesus, too, was not immune to the heartache we face. Some may not be aware that when Jesus heard that Lazarus had died, He wept. This shows the deep compassion God has for those who are experiencing pain. He is near to the brokenhearted. Psalm 145:18 says, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
We seek and invite God into the Trauma Informed Care journey because the Bible names the Lord as the Great Counselor who wishes us to be free from those trials that weigh us down. We ask the Lord to join us in bringing restoration to the whole person and stand upon His promises that hope will be restored.
Hope Begins Today
Seeking support to overcome trauma is one of the most powerful and loving choices you can make for yourself. Past experiences related to trauma do not have to define who you are today and where you are going in the future. Trauma often robs us of our sense of control and leaves us feeling as if there is no hope for tomorrow.
So far, we have discussed what trauma looks like, how to practice compassion towards yourself, and how God sees you and wants to meet you where you are in life. It is one of the most important choices to decide to find help to navigate this journey.
Reaching out for counseling with a trained, certified trauma professional, means that hope begins today as you explore what Trauma Informed Care looks like and the power and love that comes from giving back to yourself. I have committed to being able to provide this specialized level of care.
My passion is to make sure you know you are seen, you are heard, and you feel prepared to tackle any challenges with trauma you have experienced. This journey will help you see how God loves you through all the broken parts that you dislike most.
Reach out today to get scheduled for a risk-free evaluation to seek God’s guidance and find His direction for your life as well as the freedom He brings to free you from your experiences with trauma. You are worth every second you choose to spend in counseling. The effort spent freeing yourself from the weight of trauma will help you become a warrior for your own needs. Hope begins today!
Colson, Denice. (2016). Implementing trauma-informed care in Christian Counseling. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/DeniceColson/implementing-traumainformed-care-in-christian-counseling
Psychology Today. (2017). Trauma informed care and why it matters. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/modern-day-slavery/201707/trauma-informed-care-and-why-it-matters
SAMHSA (2018). Trauma-Informed Approach and Trauma-Specific Interventions. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/nctic/trauma-interventions
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