What is Trauma-Informed Care?

Defining Trauma
Applications of Trauma in Patients Receiving Care
Trauma-Informed Care
Why is Trauma-Informed Care Important?
Establishing an Environment to Handle Trauma
The Concept and Mechanism of Trauma
Further Reading

Defining Trauma

Trauma is the result of experiencing severe stress or violence committed against a person. It can disrupt the state of the psyche and lead to borderline or clinical conditions including neuroses and psychosomatic illnesses.

Many of these conditions can be difficult to diagnose without a psychiatrist because they are manifested at a physiological level. The most common victims of physical or psychological abuse are children because they are dependent on adults and unable to protect themselves.

Treating patients who have experienced trauma, whether it was physical or emotional, can be a very complicated and delicate hurdle to maneuver in medical practice.

Trauma is formed as a consequence of unpleasant events in life and various stress-related factors. Certain events that can cause trauma include the loss of loved ones, abandonment of family or friends, or serious illnesses one may have experienced.

The most destructive traumatic events occur in childhood, especially before the age of five. Because at this time the person has not yet fully developed psychological and physiological mechanisms for combating trauma. When trauma occurs at a very young age, unfortunately, it often remains unresolved due to the child’s inability to coherently analyze the situation and seek help when needed.

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Applications of Trauma in Patients Receiving Care

Patients with past trauma are susceptible to perceiving medical and psychological practices as frightening places. A traumatic reaction in the form of an emotional (or physical) outburst can be a normal way for a person to respond to an unusual situation.

Therefore, it can be difficult to get an individual to convey information about their traumatic experience for specialists to make the necessary treatment. Patients sometimes dismiss the fact a traumatic event has occurred in their lives to stop themselves from reimagining the past.

Patients may refrain from talking about past traumatic experiences for several reasons including fear, shame, and guilt. Building trust between the practitioner and client can take time and is important to foster understanding between the pair.

Trauma can be a significant barrier in many areas of medical practice as it often prevents patients from receiving the psychiatric and therapeutic care they need.

Trauma-Informed Care

When treating trauma, it's crucial to not repeatedly ask patients about their personal experience(s) that lead to their trauma. Specialists must recognize that trauma may have occurred more than once and act carefully in line with a patient’s history.

This will allow medical and therapeutic practitioners to place awareness of the client’s past trauma into any medical care given.

Trauma-informed care is a practice that promotes a culture of safety, empowerment, and healing, so when gathering background information on a patient’s trauma, it’s important to be meticulous and careful as it can lead to stress, flashbacks, and outright medical restraint for the patient.

Read Next: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for PTSD

Why is Trauma-Informed Care Important?

One of the first tasks a practitioner must do is to learn about the various types of trauma a person may have. It is important to remember that patients do not need to be bombarded with questions about their past experiences. Medical personnel should simply assume that individuals have a history of trauma, of various degrees, and respond appropriately.

How do specialists exercise trauma-informed care? If a physical exam or test is required to be completed before a client is admitted to a treatment facility, it is important that practitioners explain the reason why it is necessary. This step can help establish an environment that is trauma-informed.

Establishing an Environment to Handle Trauma

 Trauma is linked to behavioral health problems. Facing trauma at a young age can manifest itself into significant behavioral issues that surface as you get older.

Acknowledging this fact is a positive step forward for professional rehabilitation programs to create an environment that's focused on trauma-informed care, and to ensure that each patient receives the best possible support.

It is impossible to achieve a Trauma-informed care environment overnight using a single technique. This type of environment is only created through long-term relationship development and is constantly built and worked on. Medical practices and specialists must constantly stay on top of cultural changes and be sensitive toward patients.

Through Trauma-informed care, patients will be able to receive professional care and be in an environment that allows them to accept the necessary support, without reflecting on their past trauma.

The Concept and Mechanism of Trauma

Any trauma is an action that has not been completed and is not processed by our psyche. For example, a child's psychological trauma affects his subsequent development. How the psychological traumas of childhood will be reflected in the patterns of behavior of an already adult person remains a big question.

As far as in the moments when the child experienced it, did they have psychological support, did they have enough resources for this?

Psychological trauma can be caused by accident. In addition, it is important to note that the same event for one person is traumatic and difficult to experience, but not for another. It depends on the individual characteristics of the individual and the adaptive resources of the body and the human psyche.

Image Credit: TaTa Idea/Shutterstock


  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Brings Lasting Benefits through Self-Knowledge. www.apa.org. American Psychological Association. Retrieved 05.02.2022
  • McLean CP, Foa EB (August 2011). "Prolonged exposure therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder: a review of evidence and dissemination". Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics.
  • Roberts NP, Roberts PA, Jones N, Bisson JI (June 2015). "Psychological interventions for post-traumatic stress disorder and comorbid substance use disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis". Clinical Psychology Review.
  • Briere J, Scott C (2006). Principles of Trauma Therapy: A Guide to Symptoms, Evaluation, and Treatment. California: SAGE Publications, Inc.
  • Institute of Medicine (2008). Treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: An assessment of the evidence. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Further Reading

  • All Mental Health Content
  • World mental health support and the effect of stigma and discrimination
  • A Guide to Coping with Change
  • Managing and Reducing Stress
  • Analyzing the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

Last Updated: May 17, 2022

Written by

Dmitry Dorofeev

After completing his bachelor’s degree in market research and psychology in 2019 in New Zealand and Germany, Dmitry moved to London to pursue a career within the healthcare sector to oversee research projects in science and medicine, with a focus on how innovative technologies help drive and shape this industry.

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