What are Trauma-Informed Services?
Service providers from all disciplines – medical and mental health, law enforcement, the courts, education, child welfare, and advocacy – can offer trauma-informed services to those they serve. Trauma-informed services approach people from the standpoint of the question “What has happened to you?” rather than “What is wrong with you?” It is important to note that providing trauma-informed services does not mean service providers must determine exactly what has happened to an individual. Rather, organizations and providers should examine the way in which they conduct business and make modifications based upon an understanding of how a trauma survivor might perceive what is happening.
The advocacy field has used the term “survivor-centered services” for years to describe how we approach our work. Survivor-centered services use many of the concepts of trauma-informed services. However, the practice of trauma-informed services makes these principles accessible across disciplines, and is broader in scope. Survivor-centered services seek to meet the needs of identified individuals who have been victimized, in a respectful manner, whereas trauma-informed services acknowledge the high proportion of survivors, identified or not, served by professionals in the health, human services, and criminal justice arenas. Providers are challenged to offer all services in a manner that would support and empower survivors.
This booklet describes the principles of trauma informed care and explores different ways to overcome barriers to providing trauma informed care.