Most of us have suffered some degree of trauma during our lifetime. A glimpse at human history shows us that we live in a traumatized world. Since trauma is not fully acknowledged as a universal experience that requires continued attention, in many cases, it perpetuates. It is crucial to recognize our unaddressed trauma because a high degree of stress does not merely cause discomfort, it disturbs us physiologically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We begin to operate from the part of the brain directing survival instincts rather than from an integrated, whole-brain perspective.
The question of how best to heal trauma is a complex issue. The Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) program, led by Carolyn Yoder, helps to clearly outline the causes, types, effects, obstacles, needs of trauma, as well as breaking the cycle of trauma. “Unaddressed traumas affect not only those directly traumatized, but their families and future generations,” says Carolyn Yoder.
These are all valuable concepts to consider and/or revisit for people who work in the mental health field. It is also beneficial for our personal healing. The more importance that is placed on self-awareness and growth, the greater amount of internal resources can be found to handle triggering events and unresolved pain. Our capacities expand, building a repertoire of emotionally-intelligent responses to pain rather than dissociating or denying our trauma. Conversely, if our society were to fully recognize its trauma, we would be less likely to place labels on the already wounded. This would not only bring more awareness toward how trauma is treated, but would instill more compassion towards the traumatized.
Breaking the cycle of trauma requires fortitude and courage. It begins with the acknowledgement of the traumatic incident(s). The process of self-inquiry, grieving and honestly identifying fears is deeply transformative. As Yoder states, “it unfreezes the body, mind and spirit so that we can think creatively, feel fully, and move forward again.”
Trauma healing is about transformation. Through personal reflection, we can break our own cycles. By creating our own personal healing practice, we move a little closer to a society that endeavors to do the same.
At Crestwood, we take a trauma-informed approach to care that includes being aware that the majority of our clients experience trauma and that the trauma then becomes the lens through which they view and experience the world. The initial trauma-informed care training Crestwood received came through a SAMHSA grant. It has impacted the design of our programs in the environmental planning with comfort rooms, a library area and a Serenity Room. The training included an introduction to trauma-informed care services and an overview of creating a trauma-informed care service model for our programs. We are continuing to work with trauma consultants, such as Raul Almazar, from Almazar Consulting & Senior Consultant to the National Center for Trauma