Creating safe spaces with trauma-informed care15th November, 2021
Knowing how mental health scars from trauma affect your brain can help you manage the effects of a traumatic experience. Our support team assists those with trauma through what is known as Trauma-informed Care.
This article in 3 points:
- This article provides an overview of what trauma is, how it affects the brain, and what care practices are used to help people with trauma.
- Experiencing trauma can impact the way you react to certain situations and how you relate to people.
- Lilydale Youth Hub support staff use trauma-informed care with all our clients to make sure they feel safe and supported, regardless of what their experiences are.
What is trauma?
Trauma is the result of experiencing a frightening or distressing event, sometimes described as a psychological wound. Trauma can result in finding it hard to cope or function in certain situations.
Common events that produce trauma can include:
- natural disaster (like fire or flood)
- physical attack or assault/ sexual assault
- witnessing somebody being badly hurt or killed
- domestic/family violence or abuse
- physical or emotional abuse as a child
- being threatened with a weapon or held captive
- war (as a civilian or in the military)
- serious accident (like a car accident)
What does trauma do to your brain?
To keep things simple, let’s look at the brain as being in two parts: the part that processes your thoughts and thinks logically; and the other part which handles your emotions, memories, and instincts.
Following a traumatic event, the second part of the brain gets stuck in a constant state of dealing with danger – even if there isn’t any around. This stops you being able to regulate emotions and instincts and blocks off the first part of your brain which thinks logically.
This is known as hyper-vigilance. It can look different for different people, but it means that your brain and body remain in a constant state of stress – particularly when confronted with elements relating to the traumatic incident.
Most noticeably, people with trauma can develop negative behaviors that are a result of the brain constantly searching for safety.
The impact of trauma can usually be seen in the normal function of sleep, physical health, emotional regulation, and relationships.
How the Lilydale Youth Hub supports those with trauma
The key word here is safety.
Many mental health and wellbeing services such as the Lilydale Youth Hub create safe spaces by practicing what is known as Trauma-Informed Care.
Trauma-Informed Care is an approach that takes into consideration the impacts that trauma has on the brain and supports people who are hyper-vigilant.
Trauma-informed services do no harm. They do not re-traumatise or blame victims for their efforts to manage their traumatic reactions.
It is important a young person with trauma is provided with a safe and positive experience when disclosing a trauma.
Every young person will experience and respond to trauma differently. This depends on things such as age, the type of trauma experienced and the support you receive.
The support team at the Lilydale Youth Hub provide you with a safe, non-judgmental space to share your story and help you to find the tools you need to uncap your potential and achieve your goals.
Tia’s tips for survivors
We asked our Case Manager, Tia for some tips that you can use to help you move forward from your trauma and not be defined or locked in by it:
- Empower yourself – Look for choices you can make towards greater wellness.
- Validate yourself – Know that your perspective matters. You can learn to appreciate who you were, who you are, and who you are becoming.
- Connect yourself – You can decide how much you share and with whom.
- Appreciate yourself – Notice how far you’ve come. You’re worth the effort it takes to improve your well-being.
- Forgive your brain – The deeper regions of the brain controlling emotions or ‘fight or flight’ might be overactive.
- Use quiet time – Nonverbal techniques can be effective because they calm the deep regions of the brain most affected by trauma.
- Write about your feelings – This can be a safe way to connect with emotions. It may help ease stress and physical symptoms of trauma.
- Music – Using music to relax can help decrease depression and improve sleep for survivors of trauma.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation – targeting each muscle group one by one is an effective way to calm anxiety and combat stress-related pain.
- Breathing – Controlling your breathing and doing it deeply and slowly can help with the “fight or flight” response. Consider a deep breathing app to help.