Last week, we looked at the science of debilitating trauma and discovered that the brain is often changed significantly with repeated, chronic or serious trauma and violence. The study of trauma has made it clear that a specialized treatment course was necessary. Treatment must be informed by this information and guided through principles that give clients the best hope of lasting relief and change.
Starting in the late ‘90’s a shift in addiction treatment began with the introduction of trauma-informed care. Up to that point, most often treatment philosophy was guided by the single question – What is wrong with you? Most treatment programs were designed around an approach with discipline and rigidity based on correcting course in the life choices of the client suffering a substance addiction. The introduction of trauma-informed care changed everything. The new question that began the treatment relationship became – What happened to you?
Santa Maria has been practicing the principles of trauma-informed care for many years. We have written about it in our communications to you by describing our best practices. What we have not done is give you an understanding of the terminology and the principles at work. With this piece, we hope to make you more aware of the philosophy of trauma-informed care its’ importance and the need for continuous improvement and training.
Our program is completely guided by these principles. Some of our practices include the administration of monthly trauma-informed surveys that are answered by our clients through an anonymous online tool, regarding these principles. In response, our directors hold monthly quality improvement meetings to address both positive and negative reports made on the surveys.
Regular training of staff and continuous monitoring by our staff leaders also guide our work. Trauma-informed care requires vigilance in discovering and avoiding individual issues and agency decisions that would conflict with these principles and potentially retraumatize clients. As new staff join the team, they are trained about trauma-informed care during orientation and regularly thereafter.
The continuous improvement component has certainly been tested during this current health crisis as our standard delivery of care has been threatened by social distancing needs and stay at home protocols. Our team is currently addressing those challenges.
There are many other trauma-informed care practices at work, but this article is designed only to give you an overview. Next week, we will discover how the trauma-informed approach makes a difference to our clients with a testimonial about the treatment experience.