07.07.2016

The Importance of Trauma Informed Care

By Kayleen Hooley, Treehouse Senior Coordinator, Collaborative Analytics & Innovation

Treehouse serves youth who have experienced things in life that no child should ever have to face. Youth in foster care have universally experienced some degree of abuse or neglect, often from a very early age, and many have been removed from their parents at critical developmental times. Negative experiences at such a young age can severely impact how a child’s brain develops. Untreated, these experiences can inhibit a child’s ability to grow and meet their full adult potential. Often, family crises at a young age weaken a child’s ability to form and navigate healthy relationships. Traumatic events over time also may compromise a child’s mental health, emotional regulation, academic achievement, and even physical well-being.

High School Student Meeting with Thier Education Specialist

At Treehouse, we are dedicated to providing youth who have experienced trauma with the informed and individualized services they need to engage in school, thrive at home, and grow into healthy and successful adults. With intentional and appropriate intervention, the effects of trauma can be lessened over time. It is essential that our staff provides services in a trauma informed manner. Trauma informed care is an important component to service delivery when working with anyone who has been traumatized. A trauma informed organization realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands the potential paths for recovery; recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma, and responds by integrating this knowledge into the organizational culture, practices, and policies. A trauma exposed person should not need to reveal their story in order to be treated with the appropriate level of sensitivity. Trauma informed care assumes that everyone, both clients and staff, has been exposed to trauma and allows an organization to promote healing and reduce the risk of re-traumatizing anyone who comes through the door.

Treehouse youth have often suffered from multiple, long-term, traumatic experiences. In addition, some Treehouse staff have also been exposed to trauma, either personally or professionally. We are dedicated to creating a culture that is sensitive to trauma in all people. By incorporating trauma informed care into our framework, Treehouse staff are provided the professional support they need in order to best serve youth impacted by trauma.  Here are a few ways that our team works through a trauma informed lens:

  • Treehouse staff are conscious of environmental factors that may trigger a traumatized child and will choose an appropriate meeting place accordingly.
  • Assessments are conducted without any pressure for the youth to share or relive traumatic events.
  • When a youth is exhibiting behavioral issues, the youth’s Treehouse support team responds with sensitivity and empathy while understanding that even the most disruptive behaviors may be driven by trauma.
  • Treehouse staff may be able to anticipate situations or times that will be more difficult for the youth and respond with more support, such as certain times of the year or anniversaries of traumatic events.

At Treehouse, we are actively on a path to becoming more trauma informed. Our staff, from our CEO to our Education Specialists who work directly with youth in care, are being trained on the skills and behaviors that have been shown to reduce re-traumatization and promote healing in individuals impacted by trauma. Treehouse is committed to empowering youth to thrive in all areas of their life and providing service in a trauma informed manner is key to our success.

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About the Author

Kayleen Hooley is a member of the Treehouse Collaborative Analytics & Innovation team. She helps ensure that Treehouse programs are best practice and she creates pathways to continuously learn from Treehouse direct service staff and clients.


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