There is a movement not only in behavioral health care, but in health care as a whole and other service industries (such as education), for providers and practices to be "trauma-informed". This involves educating all types of professionals, whether they provide direct care or work in administrative roles, about what trauma is, the various kinds of trauma one could experience, and the ways in which traumatic experiences can impact a person's thoughts, emotions, and actions. This education assists professionals in refraining from making snap judgments about their client/patient/student and encourages them to look at others through a "trauma-informed" lens. In other words, we all encounter people who have had experiences we know nothing about, just as others do not know all that we have experienced.
Sometimes it is the person who has had a traumatic experience who does not recognize it as such. They may not realize that their experience was in some way out of the ordinary ("Everyone goes through that") or they may not realize the ways in which that experience has impacted various aspects of their life ("I don't even think about that, anymore"). If you are unsure whether you have experienced events that could be considered abuse, trauma, or victimization, or if such experiences are impacting your life, here are some things to consider ...
Abuse is generally defined as maltreatment or misuse; improper, harmful, injurious, or offensive treatment. When referring to the way one human being treats another human being (or an animal), abusive behavior can be verbal (through the use of harsh language; name calling; insulting, demeaning, or degrading another), physical (including intimidating body postures; pushing; shoving; hitting; punching; kicking; hair pulling; pinching; burning), and sexual (such as touching, fondling, rubbing against or engaging in sexual activity with someone without their consent; demanding sexual activity; not accepting "no"; bribing, guilting, or coercing another into sexual activity; engaging in sexual activity with someone underage). Another form of abuse is neglect, where a person or animal is mistreated by not having their basic needs met by the person responsible for them.
Victimization is generally defined as being treated unfairly, suffering from a harmful or injurious action, being made to feel adversity. In some circumstances, victimization may be the result of the direct and intentional action(s) of one or more other individuals (such as physical or sexual assault, abuse, theft). In other circumstances, it may be due to an event that could not be controlled or prevented (such as natural disasters or unexpected death of a loved one). Feeling victimized often involves feeling powerless, helpless, and possibly violated in some way.
Trauma is generally defined as a deeply distressing and disturbing experience, a very natural physiological and emotional reaction to a very unnatural event. Many kinds of events can be considered traumatic, including any form of abuse or victimization described above, certain medical procedures (especially if there are complications during the procedure), moving vehicle accidents, sexual assault, physical assault, combat and other experiences of military and law enforcement personnel, natural disasters, the death of a loved one that was unexpected or that occurred in a tragic manner. Sometimes it is not one singular event that is traumatic, but rather a series of related events or an environment. Living in an environment that is chronically chaotic or unstable, possibly due to domestic violence or untreated severe mental illness or substance use, can have traumatizing effects on an individual. Additionally, a person does not have to directly experience an event to be traumatized: witnessing a fatal car accident, a shooting, or an abusive situation, for example, can result in an overwhelming emotional reaction that can have a lasting impact.
Experiencing abuse, trauma, or victimization of any type understandably results in strong emotional, psychological, and behavioral reactions that may also feel out of one's control. These reactions may be short-lived or may last for several months or even years. A person may not understand why they react the way they do to certain people, situations, sights, sounds, scents, or environments. Through trauma-informed counseling, connections are often made between those reactions and the abuse, trauma, or victimization that the person has experienced.
If you (or your child) have had any of the experiences described above and you believe it continues to impact you, or if you are unsure whether or not it is still affecting your well-being, counseling can help you sort through these issues. The natural physiological reactions that occur during trauma changes the way a person's brain functions even after the trauma. Trauma-informed counseling can help restore healthier brain functioning by identifying and recognizing trauma-related triggers, developing strategies to manage those triggers, and decreasing the intensity and frequency of one's physiological, emotional, psychological, and behavioral reactions. Counseling can assist a person in regaining a sense of control and in feeling empowered in their life.
Please contact us at 513-445-9959 or via our Contact Form
to see how trauma-informed counseling services can help you.
Sharon is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and we are actively
involved in the Trauma-Informed Learning Community of Warren & Clinton Counties.