During one of our recent sessions regarding mental health. We discussed trauma; what it is and how it shows up in various ways in our lives. In a professionally led, safe space, our participants were given the opportunity to share experiences with each other and unpack some emotional baggage that had been weighing them down.
One of our clients shared her story with us...
She explained she had been struggling to hold it together all week. She could not shake her feelings. She was emotional over the smallest things and having crying spells. Tasks that she would typically accomplish with ease, became difficult to focus on. According to her, nothing significant happened to her or her family that week. Yet, she could not understand why she felt so heavy.
She went further to explain, that while discussing trauma, she realized her daughter’s upcoming birthday was a trigger for her. At the end of this particular week, her daughter was turning the same age our client was when she was removed from her mother’s custody and placed in foster care. She stated, her entire life was turned upside down the year she was removed from her mother. Our client did not realize it initially, but the emotions she had been experiencing all week were a result of the trauma she experienced as a child being triggered by her child turning the same age.
As our client continued to share, a statement she made during this conversation spoke volumes, she stated, “I saw my therapist about it, but I didn’t feel comfortable enough to share this with her, because I didn’t feel safe enough to admit I was falling apart.”
There is a lot to unpack in the above statement...rapport, trust, quality of care, outcome, re-traumatization, to name a few.
Unfortunately, these are common experiences in underserved communities, specifically communities of color.
If a client is reaching out for help, what level of care is provided if they don’t feel safe, in the appropriate setting, to be vulnerable? What rapport is established between a client and therapist when a client feels judged for being human. How do you heal from trauma when the system designed to support you neglects to meet the need?
Yes, this is one incident. But it is one of many. There are great disparities regarding mental health outcomes in communities of color.
As we work to change the narrative surrounding mental health in our communities. We want to ensure our clients experience the outcomes they deserve.
We believe, this is achieved by using a trauma-informed approach to service. Understanding what happened to them and understanding their why. If we can understand their why...helping them move forward to the what and how becomes a lot easier.
Recognizing the presence and symptoms of trauma while understanding the role it plays in an individual’s life is paramount to the quality of service provided, as well as the outcomes the client receives. Being trauma informed is important for those of us who are service providers, but also to each of us as individuals; life can be challenging, especially during a pandemic.
Let’s talk about it. Share your thoughts regarding trauma-informed care. How does your organization practice trauma-informed care? What have you experienced with organizations who do not use this approach? Let us know.