Trauma-Informed Care

The National Center of Family Homelessness has developed eight core principles to assist your organization in delivering trauma-informed services.  The following list is taken directly from the “Trauma Informed Organization Toolkit.” [1]

  • Understanding Trauma and Its Impact: Understanding traumatic stress and how it impacts people and recognizing that many behaviors and responses that may be seem ineffective and unhealthy in the present, represent adaptive responses to past traumatic experiences.
  • Promoting Safety: Establishing a safe physical and emotional environment where basic needs are met, safety measures are in place, and provider responses are consistent, predictable, and respectful.
  • Ensuring Cultural Competence: Understanding how cultural context influences one’s perception of and response to traumatic events and the recovery process; respecting diversity within the program, providing opportunities for consumers to engage in cultural rituals, and using interventions respectful of and specific to cultural backgrounds.
  • Supporting Consumer Control, Choice and Autonomy: Helping consumers regain a sense of control over their daily lives and build competencies that will strengthen their sense of autonomy; keeping consumers well-informed about all aspects of the system, outlining clear expectations, providing opportunities for consumers to make daily decisions and participate in the creation of personal goals, and maintaining awareness and respect for basic human rights and freedoms.
  • Sharing Power and Governance: Promoting democracy and equalization of the power differentials across the program; sharing power and decision-making across all levels of an organization, whether related to daily decisions or in the review and creation of policies and procedures.
  • Integrating Care: Maintaining a holistic view of consumers and their process of healing and facilitating communication within and among service providers and systems.
  • Healing Happens in Relationships: Believing that establishing safe, authentic and positive relationships can be corrective and restorative to survivors of trauma.
  • Recovery is Possible: Understanding that recovery is possible for everyone regardless of how vulnerable they may appear; instilling hope by providing opportunities for consumer and former consumer involvement at all levels of the system, facilitating peer support, focusing on strength and resiliency, and establishing future-oriented goals.

Next: Stages of Change

Go to the Quality Toolkit Table of Contents.


[1] Guarino, K., Soares, P., Konnath, K., Clervil, R., and Bassuk, E. (2009). Trauma-Informed Organizational Toolkit. Rockville, MD: Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Daniels Fund, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Available at www.homeless.samhsa.gov and www.familyhomelessness.org.

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