Trauma Informed Care

What is trauma?

Trauma is the experience of an event that is emotionally painful or distressful that often results in significant lasting impact on the person's physical, social, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Some examples of events that can be traumatic for an individual

  • Divorce
  • Moving to a new school
  • Separations from caregivers
  • Natural disasters such as tornadoes, windstorms, and hurricanes
  • Robbery or break-in
  • Medical procedures or illnesses
  • Death of a loved one (including friends, celebrities,or pets)
  • War/acts of terrorism
  • Witnessing domestic or community violence
  • Chronic stress from work, home, or school
  • Bullying
  • Near death experiences

Signs and Symptoms of Trauma Exposure

The experience of surviving a traumatic experience is different for everyone and reactions are very normal and natural. Some typical symptoms people experience after a traumatic experience include:

  • Staring off "into space" or feeling disconnected
  • Believing the world is no longer safe
  • A loss of a sense of trust
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling distress when reminded about the traumatic event
  • Nightmares
  • Headaches, stomachaches, backaches and other physical pains
  • A traumatic event "on replay" in your mind, or flashbacks
  • Avoiding triggers (or places, people, and objects that remind you of the distressful event)
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Feeling like you are "not inside your own body"
Healing from trauma is possible. As human beings, we are resilient - we have the ability to bounce back or rise above adversity. Resilience includes the process of using available resources to negotiate hardship and/or the consequences of adverse events. Support after a traumatic event can help people recover and regain a sense of safety and hope. If you or someone you know has survived a traumatic event and would like help in their recovery, please contact the clinic at 562-1999 to find out about our registration process.

Did you know?

  1. Childhood trauma is linked to risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, as well as lowered life expectancy and potential.
  2. 26% of children in the United States will witness or experience a traumatic event before they turn four.
  3. Prevalence of PTSD is higher for girls than boys and increases with age.
  4. 60% of adults report experiencing abuse or other difficult family circumstances during childhood.
  5. More than 60% of youth age 17 and younger have been exposed to crime, violence and abuse.
  6. Over 21% of foster care alumni suffer from PTSD which is higher than the rate of U.S. war veterans.
  7. Young children exposed to five or more significantly harmful experiences in the first three years of childhood face a 76% likelihood of having one or more delays in their language, emotional, or brain development.
  8. 47 % of adolescents aged 12-17 have experienced sexual assault, physical assault, or witnessed violence
  9. Not every trauma victim is diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

What is Trauma Informed Care?

Trauma-Informed care is a phrase used more often in recent times. It is a strengths-based service delivery approach “that is grounded in an understanding of and responsiveness to the impact of trauma, that emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both providers and survivors, and that creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.” It also involves vigilance in anticipating and avoiding institutional processes and individual practices that are likely to re-traumatize individuals who already have histories of trauma, and it upholds the importance of consumer participation in the development, delivery, and evaluation of services. (Definition derived from SAMHSA).

A trauma-informed approach to the delivery of behavioral health services includes an understanding of trauma and an awareness of the impact it can have across settings, services, and populations. It involves viewing trauma through an ecological and cultural lens and recognizing that context plays a significant role in how individuals perceive and process traumatic events, whether acute or chronic. In May 2012, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) convened a group of national experts who identified three key elements of a trauma-informed approach: “(1) realizing the prevalence of trauma; (2) recognizing how trauma affects all individuals involved with the program, organization, or system, including its own workforce; and (3) responding by putting this knowledge into practice”

The Child Guidance Center is dedicated to reducing stigma associated with mental health care. A major method of achieving this goal is educating our community on the impact of trauma on our community and on individuals. Through a grant from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, the Center is pursuing certification in trauma informed care to ensure our entire staff, policies and procedures, and environment reflect support to the healing process. We strive to help individuals and entities understand the impact of trauma. If you or your organization would like to receive training on trauma informed care, please contact our Clinical Director, Tim Mendoza LPC-S at 562-1999 or

What can you do to help?

Become a Trauma Champion! Trauma champions:

-Advocate for victims of trauma and their families.
-Educate the community about trauma.
-Prevent by staying alert for signs of trauma.
-Spread awareness about the prevalence of trauma.
-Understand trauma is different for each individual.
-Are sensitive to all people because they may be a trauma victim.
-Learn about trauma (read the 12 core concepts of trauma here).
The 12 Core Concepts: Concepts for Understanding Traumatic Stress Responses in Children and Families

"The 12 Core Concepts, developed by the NCTSN Core Curriculum Task Force during an expert consensus meeting in 2007, serve as the conceptual foundation of the Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma and provide a rationale for trauma-informed assessment and intervention. The Concepts cover a broad range of points that practitioners and agencies should consider as they strive to assess, understand, and assist trauma-exposed children, families, and communities in trauma-informed ways."

More online resources

More on Trauma: National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Sexual Abuse and Assault: Harborview Medical Center

Evidence based treatment for trauma: NCTSN (scroll down to chart at bottom of page)

The 12 Core Concepts of Trauma:
The 12 Core Concepts: Concepts for Understanding Traumatic Stress Responses in Children and Families


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