What is Trauma?

Trauma is the mental, emotional, and physical harm caused by extreme stress during a threatening, violent, or life-changing event.

Trauma sounds like a scary word for scary experiences like war and natural disasters, but it can also describe events that happen every day – discrimination, domestic violence, gun violence or divorce.

Childhood traumas are called Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs. This includes:

  • Emotional, sexual, or physical abuse
  • Violence
  • Neglect
  • Discrimination
  • Poverty
  • Or other negative events
Experiencing a traumatic event may cause normal reactions such as unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, strained relationships, and increased substance use. Trauma can impact your ability to function on a day-to-day basis. In addition to emotional reactions, exposure to trauma can impact your physical health as well.

What is Trauma-Informed Care?

Trauma-informed care shifts the focus from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”
A trauma-informed approach to care acknowledges healthcare teams must have a complete picture of a patient’s life situation — past and present — to provide the most compassionate and effective care.

Trauma-informed care seeks to:

  • Realize the widespread impact of trauma and understand paths for recovery;
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in patients, families, and staff;
  • Integrate knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and
  • Actively avoid re-traumatization.

    How Does Trauma-Informed Care Help Individuals Experiencing Trauma?

    Adopting trauma-informed practices can potentially improve patient engagement, treatment adherence, and health outcomes. It can also help reduce avoidable care and excess costs for both the health care and social service sectors.

    What are we doing?

    CCH and the CCH Trauma-Informed Task Force is working to implement strategies to become a trauma-informed organization, including:

    • Launching a systemwide Trauma-Informed Care training of CCH staff
    • Sharing educational materials and resources regarding TIC and promoting the current Employee Assistance Plan
    • Planning and implementing physical improvements to patient and staff spaces
    • Reviewing current policies with a trauma-informed lens