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Why Is Trauma Informed Care Important for Mental Health?

Kathy Kinghorn

August 23, 2023

Although mental health is an essential part of overall wellness, it’s also frequently misunderstood—particularly when it comes to trauma and its impact on the brain. Encouragingly, recent years have seen a general shift towards focusing on trauma in mental health care. However, Trauma Informed Care (TIC) remains a term that most people only understand loosely. So what is it, and why is it important to consider when you’re taking proactive steps to improve your mental health?

We’re here to show you. From individual therapy to our services for couples and families, everything we do at Therapy Utah is guided by the principles of TIC so that we can provide the best possible experience for clients and their loved ones. Below, we’ll explain what TIC is, the values that guide it, and the benefits it can have for you.

Trauma Informed Care At a Glance

TIC is a treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects different types of trauma can cause. Trauma Informed Care emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety for survivors and providers alike, which is vital for providing survivors with authentic opportunities to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.

Understanding and responding effectively to trauma should be a priority for all healthcare providers, since trauma can profoundly impact a person’s mental health. manifesting in various conditions from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to anxiety and depression.

Lightning bolts touching brain crumbling into dust on blue background to symbolize mental health effects of trauma

The Prevalence of Trauma

The unfortunate reality is that traumatic experiences are quite common. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over half of all adults in the U.S. will experience at least one traumatic event in their lives, such as:

  • Accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Interpersonal violence

But many other causes of trauma exist as well, some of which can be easier to dismiss. These include:

  • Relationship wounds
  • Bullying
  • Abandonment
  • Broken trust

Some people may discredit their own trauma if they don’t feel it is “serious enough” to qualify, but remember: all of these experiences can leave deep psychological scars, especially when they occur during a person’s formative years. In turn, this can dramatically increase a person’s risk of developing mental health challenges, substance use disorders, and even physical health issues in adulthood.

Therapist talking to client in room during session aligned with Trauma Informed Care principles like safety and trustworthiness

The Principles of Trauma Informed Care

Trauma Informed Care is anchored by several key principles:

  • Safety: Ensuring that patients feel physically and emotionally safe is the foundation of TIC. This principle recognizes that safety is a prerequisite for effective therapeutic work.
  • Trustworthiness: Transparency in operations and decisions helps establish and maintain trust among clients. This includes ensuring expectations are clear and processes are consistent.
  • Choice: Providing choice allows trauma survivors to regain a sense of control. This can be as simple as allowing a client to choose their appointment times or as significant as involving them in decisions about their treatment plan.
  • Collaboration: This ensures that there is a shared power dynamic and an environment where both the provider and the patient have roles in the healing process.
  • Empowerment: Helping patients understand their intrinsic value and supporting skill-building can be powerful tools against feelings of powerlessness that trauma often instills.
Hands holding image of human head with brain growing like plant to symbolize positive impacts of Trauma Informed Care

The Impact of Trauma Informed Care

Incorporating trauma informed care into mental health services is transformative. Studies have shown that TIC can lead to:

  • Reduced symptoms of PTSD and depression
  • Improved physical health outcomes (including lower blood pressure and fewer physical complaints)
  • Fewer incidents of re-traumatization or harm within care settings
  • Enhanced patient engagement and satisfaction with care
  • Fewer early treatment dropouts

Critically, TIC is not just about treating symptoms. It’s about addressing the root cause of mental distress and creating an environment that supports holistic healing.

Challenges & Solutions in Implementing Trauma Informed Care

Despite its evident benefits, there are several challenges when it comes to implementing TIC effectively. However, each of these problems also has a clear solution:

  • Lack of Training: Many providers may not be trained in trauma informed practices. Regular and updated training for mental health professionals on the principles and practices of TIC can lead to more effective implementation.
  • Resource Limitations: Funding required to fully implement TIC practices can be difficult to come by. Ongoing efforts exist to lobby for more resources dedicated to TIC at the state and federal level, but as a therapy client, the best thing you can do is seek out professionals who have the expert professionals and facilities necessary to provide effective TIC.
  • Organizational Resistance: Change is hard, and there may be resistance within some organizations to shift to a TIC model. Seek out therapy practices that embrace TIC and its many advantages for both clients and providers.

Finding the Trauma Informed Care You Deserve

Trauma Informed Care is not just a set of guidelines—it requires a paradigm shift in terms of how patients and practitioners approach mental health. Recognizing trauma’s pervasive influence and incorporating a holistic approach that deliberately addresses it allows for more effective care and better patient outcomes.

As a prospective therapy client, choosing a practice that leans into TIC provides you with a clearer pathway towards recovery, empowerment, and hope. Contact our team at Therapy Utah to be matched with a therapist who uses TIC as the lens through which to help you achieve your goals.

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