Trauma Informed Care

Today wrapped up the Tafe directed component of the Cert IV in Mental Health Peer Work! It was a fantastic session, we’ve been talking about trauma lately which obviously is a topic very close to my heart considering that I have PTSD. One of the areas we talked about today is a concept called Trauma Informed Care TIC). I’ve heard this term bandied about a bit but I’ve never read anything that really broke down what exactly this model proposes and recommends. I was particularly taken by these key principles:

    • That recovery is possible, and that healing occurs in healthy and supportive relationships
    • Supporting control, choice and autonomy
    • Focusing on strengths

These principles are demonstrated through practices such as

    • Respect for individual choice
    • Recognition that treatment and service delivery may be traumatising
    • Avoiding shaming and humiliation at all times

I am delighted by this model! I have had some very unsuccessful arguments with various services over the years about these concepts but lacked a model to refer to specifically. I often encounter myths such as “very few people with mental illnesses have experienced trauma” (by far the opposite is true, the majority of people in the mental health system have experienced trauma or abuse).

I am particularly taken with how well this TIC model dovetails with the values and principles of the Recovery model. One of the things I have also been trying to communicate is that TIC is not inappropriate for the untraumatised! It is helpful for everyone to be treated with respect, given choice, and supported to exercise control over their own life. People who have experienced trauma tend to have extra sensitivities in areas such as control, proximity and touch, confinement, new people and environments, and trust. 

Certainly in the areas I’m involved in as a Peer Worker it is crucial that services are trauma-informed. I am really pleased that Bridges has been operating from TIC principles and I’m keen to do more reading in this area and make sure that all Dissociative Initiative resources and services operate in this way.

For more information about TIC, here is a lovely talk by Dr Warrick Middleton, an Australian psychiatrist and the Director of the Trauma and Dissociation Unit at Belmont Hospital in Queensland. I love his approach to trauma, dissociation, and borderline personality disorder, incredibly respectful! The talk is in three parts:

Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA) have a wonderful page full of resources about TIC here.

There is a government training powerpoint about TIC that is nice and easy to read here.

This document is much more dense, but I particularly like the distinction between Trauma Informed Care and Trauma Specific Services on page 15.

There is a brief clear overview of the need for TIC in this newsletter.

Here is a brief video about TIC particularly with children.

I’m very excited by this area. Today’s Tafe lecture was wrapped up by sharing about Recovery and asking everyone in the class to create something that represented recovery for them. Here is my rainbow bird, made out of sheets of felt:

The rainbow bird for me represents wholeness, diversity, community, creativity and joy. All the colours are distinct but together form a whole, complementing each other. This resembles my dear friendships with such diverse people who nevertheless all contribute so much to my life and together create a community. The tail feathers resemble tears because for me, grief and pain are intrinsically linked to my experiences of joy and wholeness. They are not forgotten and not hidden, but instead are part of the beauty and authenticity of the whole person. The brightness of the colours and the rainbow represents creativity, expressiveness, imagination, dreaming, and joy; each of which have been essential components of my own recovery.

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