The Trauma Toolkit - Second Edition, 2013

Everyone has a right to have a future that is not dictated by the past.
Karen Saakvitne
Download the Trauma-Informed Toolkit

This toolkit aims to provide knowledge to service providers working with adults who have experienced or been affected by trauma. It will also help service providers and organizations to work from a trauma-informed perspective and develop trauma-informed relationships that cultivate safety, trust and compassion.

Traumatic events happen to all people at all ages and across all socio-economic strata in our society. These events can cause terror, intense fear, horror, helplessness and physical stress reactions. Sometimes the impact of these events does not simply go away when they are over. Instead, some traumatic events are profound experiences that can change the way children, adolescents and adults see themselves and the world. Sometimes the impact of the trauma is not felt until weeks, months or even years after the traumatic event.

Psychological trauma is a major public health issue affecting the health of people, families and communities across Canada. Trauma places an enormous burden on every health care and human service system. Trauma is not only a mental health issue, but it also belongs to every health sector, including primary/ physical, mental and spiritual health. Given the enormous influence that trauma has on health outcomes, it is important that every health care and human services provider has a basic understanding of trauma, can recognize the symptoms of trauma, and appreciates the role they play in supporting recovery. Health care, human services and, most importantly, the people who receive these services benefit from traumainformed approaches.

Trauma is so prevalent that service providers should naturally assume that many of the people to whom they provide services have, in some way or another, been affected by trauma. Although trauma is often the root cause behind many of the public health and social issues that challenge our society, service providers all too often fail to make the link between the trauma and the challenges and problems their clients, patients and residents, and even co-workers, present.

From the time the trauma occurs, people can experience the effects in all stages of their life and in their day to day activities - parenting, working, socializing, attending appointments - and interpersonal relationships. It should be noted that most people who experience traumatic events do not go on to develop symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, for many people, poor mental and physical health, depression and anxiety can become the greater challenge.

People who have experienced trauma are at risk of being re-traumatized in every social service and health care setting. The lack of knowledge and understanding about the impact of trauma can get in the way of services providing the most effective care and intervention. When retraumatization happens, the system has failed the individual who has experienced trauma, and this can leave them feeling misunderstood, unsupported and even blamed. It can also perpetuate a damaging cycle that prevents healing and growth. This can be prevented with basic knowledge and by considering trauma-informed language and practices.

Traumatic events happen to everyone; it is part of the human experience. Accidents, natural disasters, wars, family conflicts, sexual exploitation, child abuse and neglect, and harmful social conditions are inescapable. However, how a person responds to these circumstances is unique to that individual’s social history, genetic inheritance and protective factors that may be in the person’s life at the time.

This toolkit will explore these issues and identify how health care and social services can become trauma-informed, set policies, and encourage interactions with clients that facilitate healing and growth.

What is Trama?

A traumatic event involves a single experience, or enduring repeated or multiple experiences, that completely overwhelm the individual’s ability to cope or integrate the ideas…

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Trauma-Informed Care and Practice

Regardless of its mandate, every system and organization is impacted by trauma and will benefit from being traumainformed. Service organizations are confronted by the signs…

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

People respond to traumatic events in their own way and according to their individual coping skills and available support systems. Research on the impact of trauma on various…

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Types of Trauma

It is important to understand that while traumatic experience at any time can disrupt attachment, it is not a given. The child may experience a trauma, but have a number of…

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Historic Trauma

Historical trauma has been defined as “The cumulative emotional and psychological wounding across generations, including the lifespan, which emanates from massive group…

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Cultural Teachings and Healing Practices

Being trauma-informed involves having cultural competence regarding the traditions and practices of any specific culture. When working with First Nations, an understanding of…

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The Far-Reaching Effects of Trauma: Prevalence

Many statistics are available in Canada and the U.S. on sources and the prevalence of trauma, such as war and family violence. Incidences of violence and abuse are generally…

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The Effects of Trauma

The effects of being traumatized are very individual, and people who have experienced trauma are impacted physically, emotionally, behaviourally, cognitively, spiritually,…

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The Neurobiology of Trauma

The body’s reaction to traumatic events sets up a number of changes in the brain. When we perceive danger, the limbic system (located in the midbrain, above the brain stem)…

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