What is Trauma-Informed Care?

What is Trauma-Informed Care?

Trauma-informed care attempts to integrate the client’s unique needs and trauma history into therapy.

Using this treatment framework, the clinician seeks to acknowledge and respond to the impact of all types of trauma.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), trauma-informed care refers to an environment that:

“1. Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery;
2. Recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system;
3. Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and
4. Seeks to actively resist re-traumatization.”

One of the most challenging aspects of providing quality care is that each individual has very unique needs. Clients’ traumatic experiences are as unique as snowflakes. Even if two individuals experienced the same traumatic event, their experience, or perception of that event, will be different.

David Emerson, author of Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy, provides an excellent example of how an individual’s history can make his experience of an event extremely distinctive. Breathing exercises are often introduced as a form of relaxation or coping skill, and the client may be asked to lengthen each inhale and exhale as much as possible. This may seem like an innocuous cue to most. David describes a client who was offended by this instruction, and who found the lengthening his exhale to be anxiety-provoking and entirely conterintuituve to helping him to relax. This individual explained that he was a Marine veteran, and that he had been trained to pull the trigger on a slow exhale. He associated the slow exhale with multiple lives he had taken as a sniper, and therefore found that the exercise caused him psychological discomfort.

This situation illustrates that “the client’s subjective experience is more important than any external idea of how the practice is or ‘should be’”. (p. 7).

What does this mean for you, the client? Become empowered in your own treatment. You are the only subject matter expert on your perception of your life. Seek out a clinician who will implement trauma-informed practices and be mindful of your unique needs. You deserve to feel respected, informed, connected, and hopeful about your recovery.

For an excellent article on trauma-informed care, read The Scoop on Genuine Trauma Informed Care, by Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C, DAPA



Emerson, D. (2015). Trauma-sensitive yoga in therapy: bringing the body into treatment. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Trauma-Informed Approach and Trauma-Specific Interventions. (2015, August 14). Retrieved February 20, 2017, from https://www.samhsa.gov/nctic/trauma-interventions


About the Author:  Danielle is a provisionally licensed mental health practitioner in Omaha, Nebraska. She is a sole proprietor at New Leaf Therapy Associates, LLC, and enjoys working with individuals and families.  Danielle utilizes trauma-informed techniques and mindfulness with her clients, helping them to feel empowered and more in control of their lives.

Phone: (402)980-6342

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