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SAMHSA's Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach

"SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach" responds to and recognizes the impact of trauma on many sectors in behavioral health and beyond. The paper introduces the concept of trauma and offers a framework for how organizations, systems, and service sectors can become trauma-informed.

The paper also expands on the following topics:

  • Definition of trauma (the three “Es”):
    • Event(s)
    • Experience of the event(s)
    • Effect
  • Definition of a trauma-informed approach (the four “Rs”):
    • Realize
    • Recognize
    • Respond
    • Resist retraumatization
  • Six key principles of a trauma-informed approach:
    1. Safety
    2. Trustworthiness and transparency
    3. Peer support
    4. Collaboration and mutuality
    5. Empowerment, voice, and choice
    6. Cultural, historical, and gender issues
  • Ten implementation domains:
    1. Governance and leadership
    2. Policy
    3. Physical environment of the organization
    4. Engagement and involvement of people in recovery, trauma survivors, consumers, and family members receiving services
    5. Cross-sector collaboration
    6. Screening, assessment, and treatment services
    7. Training and workforce development
    8. Progress monitoring and quality assurance
    9. Financing
    10. Evaluation
  • Sample questions to consider when implementing a trauma-informed approach

By cross-walking the key principles with trauma-specific content, this paper aims to provide a viable and unified framework that can be used to support the work of consumers, communities, and stakeholders. The engagement process with the public was a critical piece in creating such a framework for the many sectors who serve survivors and their families.

Download the digital version of “SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach.”