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Clarifying the Difference Between Trauma-Informed and Trauma-Specific Care



Service and system responses in Canada are described using a variety of words, such as trauma-informed practice and trauma-specific practice. Multiple schools of thought, fields of study, and goals for addressing trauma all contribute to the diverse variety of approaches and methods available. Support for trauma survivors may be linked across contexts, fields, and sectors via the idea of trauma-informed practice.


Substance abuse and mental health programs that are trauma-informed acknowledge the impact that a person's traumatic experience may have on their self-esteem, outlook, and coping strategies. Based on the work of Maxine Harris and Roger Fallot in the early 1990s, trauma-informed services prioritize the safety, choice, and control of trauma survivors in all areas of care delivery.


Professionals in trauma-informed care are not obligated to treat trauma but rather to go about their job with an awareness of the prevalence of trauma in the populations they serve, the difficulty in establishing a therapeutic relationship, and the need of pace. In this respect, trauma-informed strategies are analogous to harm minimization techniques.


Safe and empowering environments for clients are prioritized in trauma-informed services, which are reflected in the policies, procedures, and relational methods used by staff. Providers who are "trauma-informed" pay attention to the need of fostering an environment free of aggression, open to new information, and willing to work together (Bloom & Yanosy Sreedhar, 2008). Working in a trauma-informed manner does not necessitate clients disclosing their own traumatic experiences; rather, services are delivered in ways that acknowledge clients' potential need for physical and emotional safety, as well as for choice and control in choices pertaining to their treatment. Practitioners prioritize client safety in all interactions and steer clear of confrontational methods wherever possible.


Trauma Coaching and other therapeutic therapies tailored to the needs of trauma survivors make it possible for them to heal from their experiences of trauma and go on with their lives. Therapeutic methods employed in trauma-specific therapies include cognitive-behavioral treatments, exposure therapy, and sensorimotor psychotherapy (Hien et al., 2009). Specialized services for victims of trauma are an important aspect of a safety net, but they are beyond the scope of this book.


Many different types of service designs include a continuum perspective with an emphasis on equality. For instance, both trauma-informed and trauma-specific treatment may include skills training for helping trauma survivors develop coping mechanisms for managing overwhelming emotions and improving self-care. This makes sense, since ensuring the individual's safety is the primary focus of the first phase of trauma therapy (Haskell, 2003) and of trauma-informed practice in general. In light of this, several trauma therapies, such as Seeking Safety (Najavits, 2002) and the Sanctuary model (Bloom et al., 2003), include both trauma-informed and trauma-specific components.


It is still difficult to implement trauma-informed and trauma-specific practices consistently across all aspects of care delivery. The necessity to consider how socioeconomic determinants of health, such as gender, race, and class, impact the experience of trauma, the stigmatization of individuals afflicted, and the ability to obtain treatment, makes it even more challenging to achieve an integrated continuum of responsiveness to trauma.

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Mimi Rothschild

Mimi Rothschild is the Founder and CEO of the Global Grief Institute which provides Certification training programs forGrief Coach, Trauma Coach, End of Life Coach, and Children's Grief Coach. She is a survivor who has buried 3 of her children and her husband of 33 years. She is available for speaking engagements and comments to the press on any issue surrounding thriving after catastrophic loss. MEDIA INQUIRIES: Info@GlobalGriefInstitute.com

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