“Trauma-informed approaches suggests clinicians, organizations and whole systems of care are in an active and reflective process of engaging consumers with histories of trauma. Trauma-informed transcends the isolated, “in session,” application of specific clinical interventions that are designed to “treat” the symptoms and sequelae of trauma.
Rather, trauma–informed care implies individual and collective systems recognize that trauma can have broad and penetrating effects on a client’s personhood. These effects can range from sensory sensitivities, (to harsh noise, light for example) stemming from a sensitized nervous system, to more existential challenges, like distrust of others, despair, a damaged sense self or powerlessness.
In the active acknowledgment of these broad and varied effects, clinicians, organizations and systems of care actively work to cultivate physical environments that are healing and soothing. Also, we are working to create a “behavioral environment,” where staff (clinical and non-clinical) convey dignity, respect, hopefulness, the opportunity for choices and empowerment among consumers. This seems to be a never ending, ongoing process, involving exchange and dialogue with those we serve.”
-Bharati Acharya, MA, LPCC, Diplomat Narrative Therapy, Trauma Informed Therapist/Mental Health Professional
Trauma-Informed Care in a Nutshell
Senior Advisor for Trauma Informed Services
Cheryl Sharp, MSW, ALWF
Cheryl Sharp holds the unique perspective of a person who has recovered from significant mental health challenges, a trauma survivor, a family member of a [...] Read More
Cheryl Sharp holds the unique perspective of a person who has recovered from significant mental health challenges, a trauma survivor, a family member of a loved one who died as a result of mental illness, and a provider of substance abuse and mental health services. Sharp has worked with adult trauma survivors for over 28 years and trains and speaks nationally on trauma-informed care. She is a Master WRAP Trainer, Mental Health First Aid USA instructor, and trainer of Intentional Peer Support. Sharp is also an ordained minister. She has worked as a hospice/medical social worker and as a director of social services for a skilled nursing facility. She received the Lou Ann Townsend Courage Award for her contributions to persons with psychiatric disabilities. As the leader of the National Council’s Trauma-Informed Care Learning Communities, Sharp has led many behavioral health organizations in preparing to offer trauma-informed care.
Clinical Services Director
Linda Ligenza, MSW
Linda Ligenza supports national behavioral health quality improvement initiatives, with focus on helping organizations become trauma-informed. She was formerly with SAMHSA as the disaster trauma [...] Read More
Linda Ligenza supports national behavioral health quality improvement initiatives, with focus on helping organizations become trauma-informed. She was formerly with SAMHSA as the disaster trauma expert and lead for the FEMA-funded crisis counseling program in the Traumatic Stress Services Branch. She served as advisor to the SAMHSA Administrator, U.S. Surgeon General, and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services on issues related to the Gulf Coast oil spill. Ligenza worked with the New York State Office of Mental Health for 20 years and was involved in the coordination of the New York City mental health response for families affected by 9/11. She is a social worker specializing in facilitating implementation of evidence-based clinical interventions, including treatments for trauma and a Mental Health First Aid instructor. As faculty to the National Council’s Trauma-Informed Care Learning Communities, Ligenza has led many behavioral health organizations toward developing a culture of trauma-informed care.
Director, Trauma-Informed Services
Director, Trauma-Informed Services
Karen Johnson, MSW, LCSW, director of Trauma-Informed Services, brings to the National Council over 19 years of clinical and administrative experience in child welfare and [...] Read More
Karen Johnson, MSW, LCSW, director of Trauma-Informed Services, brings to the National Council over 19 years of clinical and administrative experience in child welfare and community-based mental health. Karen is also the parent of an adult child with severe and chronic mental illness. She recently relocated to Washington, DC from Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she worked at SaintA as the Division Director of Community Services. While at SaintA Karen became certified in the ChildTrauma Academy’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics and was integrally involved in SaintA’s journey to become a more trauma-informed organization. Karen spearheaded the development and implementation of housing and supportive services for former foster youth and worked to strengthen systems serving this vulnerable population. With her joined professional and lived experiences, Karen brings a distinct perspective to mental health and addiction disorders work. She intimately understands the inherent challenges providers and organizations face and the significance of ensuring those affected by mental health challenges and addiction disorders, and their families, have access to and receive high-quality, trauma-informed services. She is passionate about helping to move organizations towards trauma-informed approaches.
Request consulting services in trauma-informed care.
NEED FOR TRAUMA-INFORMED CARE
Trauma is a near universal experience of individuals with behavioral health problems. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, 55% – 99% of women in substance use treatment and 85% – 95% of women in the public mental health system report a history of trauma, with the abuse most commonly having occurred in childhood. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being. Almost two-thirds of the study participants reported at least one adverse childhood experience of physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or family dysfunction, and more than one of five reported three or more such experiences.
An individual’s experience of trauma impacts every area of human functioning — physical, mental, behavioral, social, spiritual. The ACE study revealed the economic costs of untreated trauma-related alcohol and drug abuse alone were estimated at $161 billion in 2000. The human costs are incalculable.
Trauma is shrouded in secrecy and denial and is often ignored. When we don’t ask about trauma in behavioral health care, harm is done or abuse is unintentionally recreated by the use of forced medication, seclusion, or restraints.
The good news is trauma is treatable — there are many evidence-based models and promising practices designed for specific populations, types of trauma, and behavioral health manifestations.
CONSULTING SERVICES IN TRAUMA-INFORMED CARE
Addressing trauma is now the expectation, not the exception, in behavioral health systems. Every day, behavioral health organizations are asking the National Council how they can be better prepared to offer trauma-informed care.
The National Council’s trauma-informed care initiatives have helped hundreds of organizations across the country map out and operationalize a plan for delivering trauma-informed care. National Council trauma experts can help you devise and implement a complete A-Z trauma-informed care plan for your organization. They help you address board and leadership buy-in, workforce training, practice changes and guidelines, community awareness, and outcomes measurement. Our experts are available for short-term and long-term consulting and training engagements at your site and can work hands on with your core implementation team.
Addressing trauma helps your organization improve the quality and impact of your behavioral health services, increase safety for all, reduce no-shows, enhance client engagement, and avoid staff burnout and turnover.
Start today with one or more of the three key trauma-informed care consulting and training packages that the National Council offers:
Organizational Self-Assessment and Follow-up
The National Council’s Trauma-informed Care Organizational Self-Assessment is designed to increase your awareness and readiness to adopt the key components of a trauma-informed care organization and to identify what you need to keep doing and reinforcing, stop doing, or start doing the right thing. Our consulting package is designed to help you complete the assessment, review results, and develop strategies for improvement. We meet face to face with your leadership and core implementation teams, offer in-person site visits and phone consultations, schedule monthly calls to track and discuss progress, and give your team access to key resources.
Introduction to Trauma-informed Care
A day-long training at your site for all your staff provides an overview of trauma across the lifespan, discusses its impact, explains what it takes to be trauma-informed, offers helpful tools (i.e., trauma-focused therapy, alternative healing such as WRAP), and explores proven models of trauma-informed care.
Seven Domains of Trauma-informed Care
The seven domains of trauma-informed care are early screening and assessment, consumer-driven care and services, nurturing a trauma-informed and responsive workforce, evidence-based and emerging best practices, creating safe environments, community outreach and partnership building, and ongoing performance improvement and evaluation. In each of these areas, the National Council offers a half-day education workshop followed by 1-day onsite consulting on the implementation process. We help you set up performance indicators and provide essential tools and resources.
The National Council also provides consulting and technical assistance to help you
- Address compassion fatigue
- Use the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) as a tool to heal trauma
- Nurture trauma-informed peers
- Rebuild organizational culture in the context of trauma
- Examine issues related to gender and trauma
- Practice trauma-informed supervision of staff
- Build trauma-informed communities
- Understand trauma-informed evidence-based practices
RESOURCES FOR TRAUMA-INFORMED BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE
National Council Magazine
An entire issue of National Council Magazine is dedicated to Trauma-Informed Behavioral Healthcare. The magazine contains more than 20 cutting edge articles from leading researchers, policy specialists, administrators, clinicians, and peer representatives as well as interviews and case studies from organizations and communities seeking to make the transition to a trauma-informed culture of care.
Manage Trauma Infographic
The National Council’s popular infographic “How to Manage Trauma” presents key facts and stats on trauma in behavioral health and outlines the symptoms and coping strategies. View and share this infographic.
Trauma Survivors Bill of Rights
Thomas Maguire’s Recovery Bill of Rights for Trauma Survivors is presented in a National Council infographic to help persons who’ve experienced trauma cope and manage their rights.
Trauma-Informed Care Learning Community
The National Council’s 2015 Trauma-informed Care Learning Community connects you with trauma experts and agencies like yours to make sure you are offering quality trauma-informed practices. The year-long learning community includes a series of coaching calls, webinars, two in-person summits, access to tools and resources, as well as lifetime membership to an exclusive listserv. Applications are not currently being accepted.
National Council Webinars
Helping Children Recover From Trauma
Does Your Organization Measure Up: Are You Really Trauma-informed?
Cheryl Sharp and Linda Ligenza, October 18, 2012
Mobilizing a Community to Address the Impact of Childhood Trauma
Teri Barila and Mark Brown, September 17, 2012
Trauma from Adverse Childhood Experiences: The Hidden Epidemic
Vincent Felitti, August 27, 2012
Engaging Women in Trauma-Informed Peer Support
Cheryl Sharp, Cathy Cave, July 9, 2012
Stories from Survivors: A Primer on Suicide Prevention
David Covington, Cheryl Sharp, Kevin Hines, and Major General Mark Graham, September 12, 2012
Addressing Trauma through Mental Health First Aid
Cheryl Sharp, February 22, 2012
Mitigating Disaster Trauma: Lessons from Sandy
Linda Ligenza, Christian Burgess, Vicky Mieseler, November 14, 2012