Trauma occurs when a person is overwhelmed by events, circumstances or extreme stress and responds with intense horror and/or helplessness. It has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being. It shapes our beliefs, identity, spirituality and worldviews. Trauma is not just emotional it is physiological (whole body). Trauma is stored differently than any other memory.
There are some common responses to trauma. Emotional reactions can vary greatly, but those most likely to surface include anger, fear, sadness, and shame. Some survivors have difficulty handling emotions such as anger, anxiety, sadness, and shame – this is more so when the trauma occurred at a young age. Traumatic stress tends to evoke two emotional extremes: feeling either too much (overwhelmed) or too little (numb) emotion. Common physical disorders and symptoms include: sleep problems; digestion problems, cardiovascular, neurological, musculoskeletal, drug and alcohol issues, respiratory, and skin problems and urinary problems.
Adverse Childhood Experiences are potentially traumatic events in a child’s life that can have negative and lasting effects on health and well-being. Nearly 1 in 6 adults report they had experienced four or more types of ACEs. Research has shown that there is a direct connection between childhood trauma and adult illness.
People to People staff are trained in Trauma Informed Care, which:
- Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands the potential paths for recovery
- Recognize the signs and symptoms in individual clients, families, and staff
- Integrate knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and
- Seek to actively resist re-traumatization
A trauma-informed approach to care recognizes the need to have a complete picture of a client’s life situation – past and present – in order to provide effective health care services with a healing orientation. Adopting these practices can likely improve patient engagement, treatment follow through, and health outcomes, as well as staff wellness.