Engaging Organizations in Trauma Informed Practice: The TIPPS Workshop Series
Increasingly, the behavioral health field is recognizing the impact of trauma in human development and its implications in the occurrence or exacerbation of mental and substance use disorders. This growing awareness was ignited by groundbreaking research emerging in the mid-1990s demonstrating that adults who had experienced traumatic events as children were far more likely than the general population to develop clinically significant physical and behavioral health challenges, and even to experience premature mortality.
This research not only demonstrated how common traumatic experiences are, but also how varied. Most people could likely name domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect, natural disasters and combat as traumatic experiences. But it is also clear that structural and environmental factors such as poverty, homelessness and community violence are also traumatic. In addition, it is also not uncommon for people to survive multiple traumatic experiences during their lifetimes; some experience ongoing trauma for extended periods of time. While traumatic experiences can happen to anyone, it is evident that trauma disproportionately affects certain groups of people, such as people of color, people in the LGBT community, and people whose socioeconomic status is low.
Without recognition of trauma’s impact, service providers in behavioral health and social services may inadvertently re-traumatize the people they serve; it is critical that providers develop trauma-informed practices in their organizations. At the same time, trauma’s effects are insidious, affecting not only those who directly suffer through these experiences, but also the people who provide services to survivors. Vicarious traumatization is also not uncommon, and can result in significant emotional distress if it is not addressed effectively by organizations.
In acknowledgement of the trauma’ influence on people and organizations, Vibrant has developed the Trauma Informed Perspectives Practice Series (TIPPS), a sequence of six workshops that can be customized to service providers in a variety of sectors. These workshops are designed to raise awareness about trauma and its impact on both program participants and providers, increase providers’ understanding of the role of trauma in brain development and behavior, provide a framework for understanding and addressing vicarious trauma, familiarize them with the principles of trauma-informed programming and develop a program assessment and action plan designed to help providers shift their practices to become more trauma-informed.
The workshops in the series include: 1) Staying in Balance: Healthy Solutions to Managing Stress in the Workplace; 2) Essential Trauma Considerations; 3) Introduction to Vicarious Trauma; 4) Weaving Vicarious Trauma into Supervision; 5) What Does a Trauma-Informed Program Look Like? and 6) Developing a Change Plan: Implementation of Trauma-Informed Practices.
Trauma is a significant public health problem and prevention requires coordinated efforts across multiple systems to address its social, environmental and structural root causes. Service providers can play a considerable role in helping people heal from traumatic experiences through the examination of their own policies and practices to identify where they can make meaningful changes to become more trauma-informed. Engaging this issue at all organizational levels isn’t easy; but given what we know about trauma, it’s critical that we act now, and learning about trauma is an important first step.
To learn more about TIPPS and Vibrant’s workshops, contact Lisa Furst at firstname.lastname@example.org.