Victims of childhood abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault – these all have one feature in common. It’s the need for special, trauma-informed care (TIC) from the counselors and therapists who treat them.
What Is Trauma-Informed Care?
Trauma-Informed care is based upon the assumption that the client has experienced some sort of violent event at some point in time. It could be something that happened to them years ago when they were children or something that happened yesterday.
This type of mental health care does not necessarily pry into a client’s past to determine what the event was or when and where it happened. Rather, it proceeds on the assumption that trauma occurred and builds from there.
What Are the Guiding Principles of TIC?
There are five guiding principles for practitioners of TIC, and they all relate to client interaction and emotion. They include:
Simply stated, clients have the right to feel safe and to guard their safety. Therefore, actions that make them feel unsafe, such as invasive medical exams, should not be conducted while the client is in crisis. Clients should also feel as though they have choices and power over their own treatment. They should be able to trust their care providers and should partner with them for care, rather than have treatment pushed upon them.
Clients who have been victimized by violence or assault often feel powerless to stop it. And even if they do manage to extricate themselves from the abusive situation, they may be left with misplaced feelings of guilt and shame that prevent them from ever seeking help for their mental health. For these reasons, it’s often more important, in the beginning, to offer support and provide solutions than it is to begin formal treatment. This type of care requires special training and knowledge on the part of the therapist if treatment is to be successful.
Why Is the Need for Trauma-Informed Care Increasing?
Life stressors often precipitate violence and abuse. And in today’s increasingly stressful world, there is more and more need for therapists who have been specially trained to offer trauma-informed care. Stress from unemployment, inflation, illness, aging, and substance abuse continues to plague families, and the statistics are grim:
- 1 of every 4 children is the victim of maltreatment.
- 1 of every 4 women is the victim of domestic violence.
- 1 of every 5 women has experienced sexual assault.
- 1 in 71 men has experienced sexual assault, roughly 30 percent of whom were children when the assault occurred.
For these reasons, the need for mental health advocates trained in trauma-informed care is more in demand than ever before.
If you think you may have what it takes to help abused or neglected children or adults, we encourage you to consider pursuing your master’s degree in mental health care. Learn more about the Master of Marriage and Family Therapy program at Phillips Graduate Institute of Campbellsville University.