Trauma-informed care is often discussed as a professional approach to people experiencing trauma; this also applies to family, friends, and co-workers who care about people with an Operational Stress Injury for two important reasons:
It informs the most sensitive way to ensure that the person with an Operational Stress Injury can feel safe with those who care about them.
It informs the sort of advocacy that may be required for optimal professional interventions on behalf of the person who is experiencing the Operational Stress Injury if they are having difficulty advocating for themselves.
What is Trauma-Informed Care?
Trauma Informed care is a strengths-based approach that is grounded in an understanding of and responsiveness to the impact of trauma. It emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both providers and survivors to rebuild a sense of control, choice, and empowerment.
Aspects of Trauma-Informed Care
Communicate with compassion: Instead of asking, “What is wrong with you?” ask “What happened to you?”
Understand the Prevalence and Impact of Trauma: Learning about trauma in general, such as through the earlier pages of this and similar documents, as well as the specifics of the trauma of the person with an Operational Stress Injury, and how this impacts everyday life.
Promote Safety: Creating an environment around yourself and the person with OSI of physical, psychological, and emotional safety
Earn Trust: It is often hard for someone who has experienced trauma to trust others. Earn that trust by not making promises that cannot be kept. Remember that trust is desirable but cannot be demanded in order to work together. Model trust for the person with OSI.
Embrace Diversity: Just because the person with an OSI has a different idea of what recovery looks like than you do, that does not make it wrong. Differences are natural, and respecting and validating another person’s perspective helps them regain their power.
Provide Holistic Care: Care and support comes in many forms. Sometimes it is as personal and interactive as joining in with the exercises as suggested on page 43, sometimes it is systemic in ensuring that others follow the trauma-informed guidelines, and sometimes it is just about being present with the person, doing something together that is not about the trauma.
Respect Human Rights: The person with OSI that you care about is vulnerable. Ensure that their human rights are being respected by you and others.
Pursue the Person’s Strength, Choice, and Autonomy: The de-stabilizing or threatening event that produced trauma in the person that you care about has given them a sense of loss. This may include their own power, strength, control, ability to choose, confidence, sense of worth, and sense of autonomy. A person who cares can offer some restoration of this simply by not dictating what that person “should” do, but rather listening and supporting what that person wants to do.
Share Power: Related to the previous, it is important to give up some of the power in the caring relationship to the person who does not have it. This sharing of power reinforces the sense of autonomy and strength within that person.