Trauma Informed Care

Trauma Informed Care (TIC) is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma on client well-being and behavior.

Many of the models were designed specifically to address the kinds of complex traumatic stress issues and problems common in the lives of individuals seen in public service sector settings today. A number of factors are shaping and influencing increased awareness of trauma as a key public health and policy issue while promoting growth in trauma related activities within state mental health systems and localities.

The new system will be characterized by safety from physical harm and re-traumatization; an understanding of clients and their symptoms in the context of their life experiences and history, cultures, and their society; open and genuine collaboration between provider and consumer at all phases of the service delivery; an emphasis on skill building and acquisition rather than symptom management; an understanding of symptoms as attempts to cope; a view of trauma as a defining and organizing experience that forms the core of an individual’s identity rather than a single discrete event; and by a focus on what has happened to the person rather than what is wrong with the person


The 10 Principles of Trauma-Informed Care Organizations

  1. Trauma-Informed Services Recognize the Impact of Violence and Victimization on Development and Coping
  2. Strategies Trauma-Informed Services Identify Recovery From Trauma as a Primary Goal
  3. Trauma-Informed Services Employ an Empowerment Model
  4. Trauma-Informed Services Strive to Maximize a Woman’s Choices and Control Over Her Recovery
  5. Trauma-Informed Services Are Based in a Relational Collaboration
  6. Trauma-Informed Services Create an Atmosphere That is Respectful of Survivors’ Need for Safety, Respect, and Acceptance
  7. Trauma-Informed Services Emphasize Women’s Strengths, Highlighting Adaptations Over Symptoms and Resilience Over Pathology
  8. The Goal of Trauma-Informed Services Is to Minimize the Possibilities of Retraumatization.
  9. Trauma-Informed Services Strive to be Culturally Competent and to Understand Each Woman in the Context of Her Life Experiences and Cultural Background
  10. Trauma-Informed Agencies Solicit Consumer Input and Involve Consumers in Designing and Evaluating Services
Understanding trauma is not just about acquiring knowledge. It’s about changing the way you view the world. It’s about changing the helping paradigm from “What is wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?
— Sandra Bloom, 2007


What is trauma?

Trauma is literally a wound.

Psychological trauma occurs when a sudden, unexpected, overwhelming intense emotional blow or a series of blows assaults the person from outside.


Traumatic events are external, but they quickly become incorporated into the mind.

Terr, 1990


It is estimated that at least half of all adults in the United States have experienced one incident that was caused by a major traumatizing event.

Briere & Scott, 2006


For children the prevalence of trauma is felt to be even higher than that experienced in adulthood. Some studies have found up to 60-70% of urban youth have experienced a traumatizing event in their lives. Exposure to traumatizing events is occurring at an epidemic rate.

Geffen, Griffin & Lewis, 2008

Trauma, by definition, is unbearable and intolerable … Nobody wants to remember trauma. In that regard society is no different from the victims themselves. We all want to live in a world that is safe, manageable, and predictable, and victims remind us that this is not always the case. In order to understand trauma, we have to overcome our natural reluctance to confront that reality and cultivate the courage to listen to the testimonies of survivors.
— Van Der Kolk, 2014