What is Trauma Informed Practice?
Trauma Informed Practice is a way of increasing the understanding of trauma and its impact through supporting development of skills and knowledge throughout the workforce. It also recognises the correlation between trauma and poorer outcomes which may be caused by the direct impact of the trauma, the impact of the trauma on a person’s coping response or the impact of the trauma on a person’s relationships with others.
Defining what we mean by Trauma
Trauma refers to experiences that cause intense physical and psychological stress reactions. This may be from a single event, multiple events or a set of circumstances experienced by an individual as physically and emotionally harmful or threatening and that has lasting adverse affects on the individuals physical, social and emotional, or spiritual wellbeing.
(Adapted from SAMHSA 2014)
Defining Trauma-Informed Practice
Benefits of Trauma Informed Practice
The benefits of developing a trauma informed system impact upon staff and the people who use services:
Support the identification of need and lead to improved outcomes for those affected by trauma (staff and service users/clients).
Knowledge regarding brain development and functioning informs our practice and supports our understanding of the physiological responses to stress. Supporting best practice means we understand how to recognise and supportively respond to signs of overwhelming (toxic) stress in ourselves and others.
Understanding how to apply the principles of trauma informed practice starts with reflection, embedding knowledge and the ability to apply this to our responses. ‘What has happened to this person?’ Are there unmet emotional needs? Using a trauma ‘lens’ supports us to reflect upon what the person, family or community may have experienced.
Trauma can impact on our ability to feel safe and develop trust with others. Developing safe relationships and supporting regulation is an important component for both individuals and organisations.
Early intervention is integral to offer support and help at the earliest possible opportunity - bridging the gap through understanding of current presentations in the context of life experiences.
Long term impact
Implications for positive outcomes for children and young people as well as wider implications for staff and service user wellbeing.
Trauma Informed Practice Training Resources
The Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland has been working with partners to share best practice of the trauma sensitive services that continue to support our services users and to implement a consistent suite of trauma informed practice training resources across the Northern Ireland workforce of health, social care, justice, education, community and voluntary sector and many more. These training resources raise awareness of the potential impact of childhood adversity, physically, behaviourally and emotionally across the lifespan. They provide staff with some key resilience building skills to support those children, young people, adults and families who have been affected by adversity. Training will also focus on the safety and wellbeing of staff across our workforce and introduce key aspects regarding what a trauma informed system may look like.
Barnardo’s NI Life Changers Programme - Participation of Children and Young People
Through the EITP Trauma Informed Practice Project, Barnardo's NI have been working with children and young people who are currently receiving support through the Barnardo’s services and programmes. Young people in care, children with a disability, refugee families, young carers and many more worked with the SBNI and Barnardo’s NI from January to March 2019 through a six week life changers programme to explore what their needs are, who supports them when they are experiencing distress and how they have been made to feel. A short video production brought together to showcase how staff are working through a trauma informed approach to support the young people. The learning from this work continues to inform the development of the SBNI EITP Trauma Informed Practice Project Training and Resources.