Trauma-Informed Practice

From the Specialized Practice Curricular Guide for Trauma-Informed Social Work Practice, part of the CSWE 2015 EPAS Curricular Guide Resource Series, as created by Fordham Graduate School of Social Service, Andrews University’s School of Social Work acknowledges the ensuing three statements:

Trauma-informed social workers recognize the following:

  • Trauma and traumatic experiences are inherently complex. Trauma occurs in a broad context that includes individual’s personal characteristics, life experiences, and current circumstances. Intrinsic and extrinsic factors influence individual’s experience and appraisal of traumatic events; expectations regarding danger, protection, and safety; and the course of post-trauma adjustment.
  • Trauma recovery is possible but presents specific challenges. Traumatic experiences often constitute a major violation of the expectations of the child, family, community, and society regarding the primary social roles and responsibilities of influential figures in the client’s life. These life figures may include family members, teachers, peers, adult mentors, and agents of social institutions such as judges, police officers, health-care and behavioral health-care providers, and child welfare workers. Practitioners are aware of the need to contend with issues involving justice, legal redress, and protection against further harm. In addition, working with trauma-exposed clients can evoke distress in providers that makes it more difficult for them to provide good care. Proper professional development and self-care are important parts of providing high-quality care and of sustaining personal and professional resources and capacities over time (national Child Trauma Stress Network, 2012).
  • Trauma informs organizational practice. Whether or not it is recognized, trauma shapes the organizational culture of all service-providing systems. Competent social work organizational practice reflects the U.S. Substance Abuse and mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, 2014) statement that “trauma-informed organizations, programs, and services are based on an understanding of the vulnerabilities or triggers of trauma survivors that traditional service delivery approaches may exacerbate, so that these services and programs can be more supportive and avoid re-traumatization.” Trauma-informed systems also consider the profound impact that working with and caring for traumatized clients can have on workers and caregivers and provide support to mitigate these effects.

 

In addition, as a Christian institution, Andrews University’s School of Social Work also believes in the inherent worth of each human being as each person is created in the image of God. As such, we recognize that in order to provide a holistic framework of care, spirituality is a necessary facet. It is through the lens of one’s spirituality that individual and collective life experiences are viewed, and it is how meaning is discovered and created within these experiences. Trauma can significantly affect one’s sense of self and relationship with God. Examining how trauma impacts the spiritual self is part of holistic assessment of the human experience and can allow one to walk more fully in complete personhood as intended by the Creator.

We commit that the School of Social Work at Andrews University will function as a Trauma-Informed organization constructed on the definition from The Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care’s Trauma-Informed Organizational Change Manual based out of the University at Buffalo School of Social Work (http://socialwork.buffalo.edu/ittic).

The definition states:

A TRAUMA-INFORMED organization is aware of the prevalence and impact of trauma and engages in universal precaution for re-traumatization by anchoring in the five guiding values and principles.

The Five Guiding Values and Principles by Harris and Fallot (2001) provide a general framework for an organization.

  • Safety includes physical and emotional safety of all individuals in the organization or system
  • Trustworthiness provides clear information, respectful and professional boundaries, consistency, confidentiality and focus on follow-through.
  • Choice is focusing on all individuals having a voice.
  • Collaboration in planning, evaluating and creating changes conveying that individuals are the experts in their own lives.
  • Empowerment recognizing strengths, validation, affirmation, strength-based language and is focused on solutions rather than problems.