Creating a Trauma-Informed Environment for Professionals

Posted January 21, 2020

Welcome to a new year! Resolutions sometimes get a bad rap, but I have one for 2020 that I know will stick. I am resolving to make sure that providers know that Ukeru is not just for clients; it’s for you, too.

Behavioral health professionals have one of the most challenging jobs there is. Clients often have experienced enormous trauma and exhibit behaviors that are mentally and physically demanding. Caregivers bring our own trauma to the table, as well. In addition, we are at substantial risk for experiencing vicarious trauma, burnout and compassion fatigue. At the same time, we are required to remain calm and in control of our own words and actions. It’s a tall order!

The first step is becoming aware of our own experiences and how those experiences affect our responses and reactivity. No matter how peaceful a life we have lived, as a human interacting with other humans, we have “baggage” – probably more than we think. We bring that baggage into stressful work environments where we are exposed to traumatic situations as part of our jobs.

So, what can organizations do to create a trauma informed environment for staff?

To begin with, put practices in place and provide tools to increase safety. Research shows that reducing and preventing restraint and seclusion practices can enhance quality of treatment and increase satisfaction for those both receiving and providing services.

Other steps organizations can take include:

  • Being transparent about operations (data, finances, strategic plans, etc.);
  • Striving to ensure adequate resources; and
  • Creating an atmosphere of kindness and fun.

There are also things each of each of us can do to contribute to a supportive environment:

  • Bring our best attitude;
  • Know our limits; and most importantly
  • Take care of ourselves and each other.

What’s your 2020 resolution? If you don’t already have one – or even if you do – might I suggest this: commit to trauma-informed self-care in the New Year.