Understanding trauma and how traumatic events can affect young people is essential when promoting recovery and resilience and ensuring that young people are not retraumatized through experiences with human service systems. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed a working definition of trauma:
Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual's functioning and physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.1
In May 2013, the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs and SAMHSA hosted a webinar entitled "Implementing a Trauma-Informed Approach for Youth Across Service Sectors," which featured three content experts nationally known in their field: Eugene Griffin, J.D., Ph.D., Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine; Julian Ford, Ph.D., University of Connecticut, School of Medicine; and Charles Wilson, MSSW, Chadwick Center for Children and Families Rady Children’s Hospital - San Diego, California; all of whom have been supported by SAMHSA trauma-focused grants. Additionally, the webinar included two youth presenters, NC and LS, who spoke about their own lived experience and the importance of trauma-informed care. Both youth are referred to only by initials to protect their privacy. NC is a peer specialist and LS is a law student.
SAMHSA's Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach (PDF, 27 pages)
This paper introduces SAMHSA’s concept of trauma and offers a framework for how an organization, system, or service sector can become trauma informed by integrating the perspectives of researchers, practitioners, and people with experience of trauma.
SAMHSA’s KSOC-TV: Trauma-Informed Approaches to Caring for Every Child’s Mental Health
This webisode explored the principles of a trauma-informed approach and trauma-specific interventions designed to address the consequences of trauma among children, youth, and families.
Trauma-Informed Approaches: Federal Activities and Initiatives (PDF, 77 pages)
This report illustrates how trauma-informed approaches to serving women and girls have been implemented across more than a dozen federal agencies, departments, and offices through multiple projects, programs, and initiatives.