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The Basics of Trauma-Informed Care

Caitlin Bryant, LCSW, Vice President of Programs and Services, Central Kentucky
May 4, 2022

We believe each child is a person of worth, entitled to God's gift of fullness of life. One of the ways we help them heal is by staying up to date with proven methods such as trauma-informed care.

Trauma-informed care is a critical foundation of the services we provide at the Kentucky United Methodist Children’s Homes (KyUMH). It is a lens through which we look to understand and meet children and families right where they are. Before we even get a chance to learn about our clients, we know they are survivors of trauma. Trauma results from exposure to an incident or series of events that are emotionally disturbing or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on an individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, and/or spiritual well-being. Trauma-informed care helps us create the sense of safety and belongingness that is necessary for children to heal, learn and grow.

The essence of trauma-informed care is a shift in our view of others- a change in perspective wherein rather than asking “what’s wrong with you?” we instead consider “what has happened to you?” When we reframe the lens through which we view people, we become better able to understand who they are, what they are dealing with, and how best to support their healing.

At KyUMH, we understand that there are no “bad” kids, rather there are individuals to whom life has not been kind. The very skills and behaviors they developed to help them survive those traumatic experiences may suddenly look like “problems” or “bad behaviors” when they transition to a safe and stable environment. When we approach client care through the lens of what has happened to them, we’re able to reframe the problem and better identify what is needed to overcome obstacles and heal invisible wounds.

Most clients begin their treatment journey with us guarded, reluctant, and often afraid or angry. We aren’t able to change the circumstances that brought them to us, but we can partner with them in developing a pathway forward. Partnership with the client is key, but in order for partnership to develop, the walls must first begin to come down. Establishing safety is the first and most critical priority in helping a client begin their journey toward healing.

Once safety is established, trust begins to emerge, and it’s with this foundation of safety and trust that true healing and lasting impact in an individual’s life becomes possible. Through the trauma-informed care model, we are able to help youth build a better life for themselves and their future families.

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