12 Points Towards Trauma-Informed Care

A POCA Volunteer's picture
  1. Be aware of the prevalence of trauma. Use universal precautions for trauma: assume that anyone you treat may have a trauma history, regardless of whether they choose to disclose that to you.

  2. Understand that for those with trauma histories, every interaction with a health professional has the potential to be re-traumatizing. It is risky for someone with a trauma history to seek your help. Respect bravery.

  3. Remember that as service provider, you are in a position of power. There are ways to mitigate the power imbalance, but not entirely. Be accountable to the power you hold.

  4. Do not – ever – pressure someone to disclose their trauma to you.

  5. If someone does disclose to you, don’t be fascinated. A trauma disclosure may well evoke a sense of horrified curiosity in you. Do not indulge this. (“Where was your mother when this was happening??”/ “Do you still talk to your father?” are good examples of questions not to ask.)

  6. Avoid being dramatic or overly emphatic about any diagnosis or assessment. Please remember that the fascinating case before you is also a person. Trauma can make us feel broken. Don’t amplify that.

  7. Avoid telling someone how something "should" feel. It's easy to think there's something wrong with us if we're not responding "correctly" to a treatment. (Instead of, for example, "This point calms the mind" you could say "This point can be very calming.")

  8. Be transparent. Communicate about what you’re going to do before you do it. Give someone more than one chance to say no. Explain that they can stop things at any time, if they want to or need to. Just because someone signed the consent form does not mean that you now “own” their consent.

  9. Understand that healing from trauma is a cyclic, nonlinear, unpredictable process. Do not make judgements about someone’s overall state of health based on the day that you see them.

  10. Recognize that you’re going to make mistakes. Be humble enough to take responsibility for those mistakes.

  11. Notice that when your practice is built to accommodate those with trauma histories, it’s better for everyone.

  12. Know that this list is only a start. Educate yourself further.

Two patients nap
Photo courtesy of
Dave Hudson