Undergoing trauma is a major event in one’s life. That person’s memory could be impacted to the point of either recollecting every excruciating detail, having difficulty remembering details, or being confused about the order of events. Trauma-informed care for first responders who have sustained an Operational Stress Injury (OSI) is the most sensitive way to ensure that the person with an OSI can feel safe in a particular environment, usually at home or with those who care about them. This is conducive to recovery and vital to allowing them to enjoy their day-to-day lives.
Trauma-informed care involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma. Thus, keep in mind these key points when caring for someone with OSI:
The phrasing of a question becomes very important when working to communicate with compassion. Imagine asking someone “What is wrong with you?’ when that person is seeing risks everywhere they go… Instead, try asking, “What happened to you?” You’re likely to get a less combative, aggressive response. Understand the prevalence and impact of trauma by educating yourself regarding trauma in general as well as the specifics of that person’s OSI details; this will allow you to see the impact of everyday life on someone you care about or for. Provide a caring environment for someone who has been traumatized. This is achieved by means of a trauma-informed focus to promote safety, earn trust, and allow the caregiver and the one who is cared for to embrace diversity in what their care and recovery entails for themselves and for those around them.
(Go to the “Aspects of Trauma-Informed Care” section of our Manual in Resources at www.osican.ca to learn more about each of these key principles to a trauma-informed approach.)
Care and recovery is hard—hard on the traumatized and hard on those around them. BUT… Recovery is possible!!
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: Learn about trauma in general as well as the specifics of the trauma of the person with an OSI, and how this impacts their everyday life.
Promote Safety: Create 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.