Thankfully, public systems in Virginia are educating professionals and peers about the lasting effects of trauma on individuals’ mental health. Trauma-informed care treatments help more than harm, and we can’t adopt them soon enough.
Fight, flight or freeze: Our bodies physiologically react to traumatic situations and can get stuck in patterns that can last for decades. Properly understood for what they are, those patterns can be unwound — freeing us to live a thriving life. Learn some Trauma-Informed Tools from Dr. Brian Sims on VOCAL’s You Tube page.
An accepted truth for our individual lives: Is there anything to learn from trauma-informed care that applies to non-profit wellness and community life, as well?
Authors Pat Vivian and Shana Hormann think so. In their work as non-profit consultants they kept bumping into patterns, organizational dynamics, and cultures that were getting in the way of well-meaning groups achieving important missions.
So, Pat and Shana decided to look into these issues from a system-wide perspective, rather than looking at individuals and their behavior. “We realized that as long as the focus was on individual behavior,” they write in the introduction to the 2013 book ‘Organizational Trauma and Healing,’ “expectations were high for individual staff to change while organizational norms and structure were left untouched.”
This book offers insight, case studies and tools to identify, address and prevent patterns of trauma in organizational life. Being aware of and correcting patterns in organizational life can lead to sustainable nonprofits that nourish the staff that work there as much as the people we serve.
Highly recommended. Pick up a copy and read along with me! – Lydia Wilson, Co-OP Program Coordinator
PS – Did you know you can bring a trauma-informed care training to your community? Peers and professionals on the northwest regional recovery team coordinated one in Charlottesville in December 2015. We heard hopeful messages from the director of SAMHSA’s National Center for Trauma-Informed Care and the medical director for the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. Contact the Technical Assistance team at SAMHSA’s NCTIC to request a training.