A trauma informed agency is one in which all parties involved recognize and respond to the impact of trauma on mental health and physical well-being. The culture of a trauma informed agency is guided by six guiding principles:
- Trauma Understanding
- Safety & Stability
- Cultural Humility & Responsiveness
- Compassion & Dependability
- Collaboration & Empowerment
- Resilience & Recovery
If a program can say that its culture reflects each of these values in each contact, physical setting, relationship, and activity and that this culture is evident in the experiences of staff as well as consumers, then the program’s culture is trauma-informed. By building on these key principles, a service system with a trauma-informed perspective is one in which programs, agencies, and service providers:
- Routinely screen for trauma exposure and related symptoms;
- Use culturally appropriate assessment and treatment for traumatic stress and associated mental health symptoms;
- Consider the impact of traumatic stress on mental and physical well-being;
- Attempt to strengthen resilience and protective factors;
- Address the trauma that parents, caregivers, and family have experienced
- Maintain an environment of care for staff that addresses, minimizes, and treats secondary traumatic stress, and that increases staff resilience.
While the effort to create a change in culture within an agency does take a tremendous amount of leadership, motivation, and commitment, it is possible and it is being done. The resources in Developing a Trauma Informed Agency can assist you in starting to create a plan of action for this change, or continue to support you in your ongoing efforts to become more trauma informed.
For more information about the fundamentals of a trauma informed agency:
- California Center of Excellence for Trauma Informed Care
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Trauma Summit Report: Sponsored by Wisconsin Dept. of Health and Services and New Partnerships for Women, Inc.
- Creating Trauma informed Systems of Care for Human Service Settings