Trauma is a widely pervasive issue in the world of psychiatry and mental health. The ways in which individuals experience trauma as well as the fallout that trauma can have in their lives can differ greatly between individuals. In our December 2021 blog post, Jenna Kamholz, LPCC, provided a brief overview of trauma and how it can influence individuals and present itself in our lives. You can read her article here.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening and has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being” (SAMHSA, 2012, p. 2). Because of the complexities that accompany assessing for a history of trauma, helping individuals cope with the trauma they experienced, and supporting resilience and recovery, it is essential that all healthcare professionals have at least a basic understanding of trauma and trauma-informed care. Additionally, being knowledgeable about trauma, trauma-informed care, and how trauma can impact each of us individually can provide you with the tools necessary to advocate for yourself when receiving mental health care.
Three essential concepts that serve as a foundation for a trauma-informed approach include promoting safety (physical and psychological) to foster a healing environment, providing respect for the individual and their unique history and needs, and developing trust to promote a therapeutic relationship between the healthcare provider and individual (Fleishman et al., 2019).
There are many specific steps recommended by the Center for Health Care Strategies (2019) that healthcare providers can take to make their practice more trauma-informed, and if you are an individual with a history of trauma, you may consider whether or not the mental health care you are receiving is based on trauma-informed principles. The first and one of the most important steps is for healthcare providers to learn about trauma and become familiar with trauma-specific treatments. Next, providers should be screening all individuals presenting with mental health concerns for a history of trauma and be comfortable in discussing trauma with their patients. When necessary, providers should make appropriate referrals and provide resources related to the treatment of trauma if they are not qualified to treat it themselves. Finally, the care you receive from a healthcare provider should be collaborative and based on shared decision-making, as engaging patients in their care is essential in giving individuals autonomy over their treatment.
Your voice in your mental health journey and recovery is essential in ensuring that you receive appropriate, relevant, and evidence-based mental health care that is unique to your individual needs. If you feel like there is a disconnect between your goals of care and those of your provider, initiating a respectful conversation about your goals is a good first step you can take in advocating for yourself and engaging in the decision-making process for your care.
If you are looking to establish care for the treatment of mental health issues, whether or not you have a history of trauma in your life, you can contact the PrairieCare Assessment & Intake Department at 952-826-8475 to get the ball rolling and complete a no-cost mental health screening to determine the PrairieCare resource that is most appropriate for you and your mental health needs.
Center for Health Care Strategies. (2019). 10 Key Ingredients for Trauma-Informed Care.
Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Center.
Fleishman, J., Kamsky, H., & Sundborg, S. (2019). Trauma-informed nursing practice. OJIN:
The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 24(2).
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). SAMHSA’s working
definition of trauma and principles and guidance for a trauma-informed approach [Draft].
Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.