"Trauma-informed" is more than just wordsNov 14, 2023
The world is constantly changing, ideally practice in the Social Work field would be constantly changing too.
Studying Social Work for the past 3 years has been an incredible journey for me, being challenged by various subjects I’ve studied, and experiencing endless amounts of experiential learnings within both my student placements.
This study has enabled me to be exposed to the best and the worst of humanity, to see the depths to which some people swim within trauma, and in some cases where they drown…
I’ve been thinking of some of the exposure I’ve experienced recently, and a lot of the times it is as though these people are in these waters, having waves constantly crashing around and over them, and a lifeguard is shouting out what they need to do rather than throwing them a ring buoy to grab on to as support.
The way TCFH differs in its approach is that it has that ring buoy at the ready, and the lifeguards support and sit, and sometimes swim alongside these people, to really meet them where they are at, rather than telling them where they should be and building feelings of shame and guilt within people where these feelings are already so deeply ingrained in their core.
TCFH are trauma-informed, and this is demonstrated in their courses, and their actions. They live and embody what they say.
A frustrating part of studying Social Work has been seeing the term ‘trauma-informed’ being used in a reckless way and the consequences that can occur from this.
Given the complexity and severity of trauma, it should not be a term that is taken lightly or promised to a client when it is not going to be fulfilled. Whether it is in policies, frameworks, or sessions, if the intention and understanding of trauma-informed care is not there, it is a disservice to both the practitioner and the client to even mention it.
Some key changes that need to be made in current systems include what I’ve just mentioned which is not including terms such as trauma-informed care if the intention and understanding is not there, more training and education of what trauma means and how to incorporate trauma-informed care with clients for organisations and staff within the human services field, mandatory trauma-informed care training for human services staff – just like how First Aid is mandatory for quite a lot of human services staff. Mental health and wellness are just important as physical health and wellness.
My vision and hope for the future of Social Work and the human services field, is that organisations like TCFH can have a more ingrained role in the field educating and training human service practitioners to become informed, and well-equipped to safely and healthily address trauma with clients in whatever area of the field they endeavours to work in.
Our clients deserve that understanding and care, and so do we as practitioners, too.
The Centre for Healing Student