Trauma-Informed PA: A Plan to Make Pennsylvania a Trauma-Informed, Healing-Centered State
What is trauma?
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defines trauma as: “Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”
Where Does Trauma Occur?
Trauma occurs everywhere in the world, including Crawford County. It is not specific to one demographic group of people or geographic location.
Common Misconceptions about Trauma
Only war veterans can have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). – This is not true; anyone who experiences a traumatic event may, as a result, have PTSD.
Everyone who experiences a life-threatening event will get PTSD. – This is not true; there are people who experience a traumatic event who get PTSD, and people who don’t.
I should be able to cope from the traumatic event I experienced without any help. – This is not true; it is often hard to reach out for help, but it is crucial to reach out to others for help when coping with the effects of a traumatic event.
If I can’t remember a traumatic event that I experienced, I won’t be able to process it. – This is not true; oftentimes, individuals’ brains will block from their memories traumatic events that occurred when they were young. Trained therapists and psychologists have techniques to help individuals suffering from the effects of a traumatic event, even if they cannot remember the details of it.
After a certain amount of time passes, I should be over my trauma. – This is not true; trauma has the tendency to linger with individuals who have experienced traumatic events. There are helpful ways of coping with trauma, but those mechanisms will not make it disappear. Witnessing traumatic events often affects individuals for the rest of their lives.
It’s too late for me to do anything about the traumatic event that I experienced when I was younger. – This is not true; it is never too late to address trauma. People who have experienced trauma often take years before reaching out for help. The sooner you reach out for help, the better you will feel, but it is never too late to receive help.
Sources & Types of Trauma
There are various potential sources and types of trauma. SAMHSA lists the different types of traumatic events as: physical and sexual abuse, neglect, bullying, community-based violence, disaster, terrorism, and war.
What Does “Trauma Informed” Mean?
According to SAMHSA, a trauma informed approach refers to “how an organization or community thinks about and responds to children and adults who have experienced or may be at risk for experiencing trauma. In this approach, the whole community understands the prevalence and impact of ACES, the role trauma plays in people’s lives, and the complex and varied paths for healing and recovery. A trauma informed approach asks ‘What happened to you?’ instead of ‘What’s wrong with you?’ It is designed to avoid re-traumatizing already traumatized people, with a focus on ‘safety first’ (including emotional safety), and a commitment to do no harm.”