I Became Trauma-Informed

Have you ever sought to find your place to thrive? What if you could find the community or organization where you could leverage all of your skills and passionate purpose, all while continuing to learn and grow with others?

Three years ago, I began this journey, and it has transformed my life. Finding the trauma-informed care movement in KC provided me the opportunity to build the connections that I have as a human being, a parent and most dynamically, as a professional.

As an artist, educator, community builder and youth advocate, I have built my career on working with ideas that are central to my own experience (childhood trauma, mental illness, divorce, shame, suicide attempts, poverty, loneliness) … the journey to be successful, happy, healed and whole.

Most humans compartmentalize all of the different facets of life so that they are easier to manage. The “Don’t bring your personal life to work” train of thought is a clear example of this. Trauma-informed care says, “actually, yes, do this,” but in a productive way that helps you understand and improve your relationships with those around you — coworkers, friends, clients and customers, to name a few. The movement to foster trauma-informed systems of care demonstrates how crucial it is for individuals and organizations to develop an integrative framework for achieving personal goals and organizational success.

As I researched trauma-informed care, I began to see how my own childhood trauma had shaped my brain and thought patterns. I saw that a basic, novice-level understanding of brain science deepened my own self-awareness and compassion. As I became educated about the physiological impacts of trauma on the brain and beliefs of survivors, I knew that I had to integrate this information into my life practice and professional perspective. I also recognized that this new body of knowledge inspired me to refine my way of teaching, learning and parenting. I was truly seeing how everything was connected!

The trauma-informed perspective illuminates the way that trauma not only impacts the brain and disrupts our body systems, but also the key social systems; including how we build relationships, fall in love, work in teams and take care of ourselves. Thus everything, from education and health care to criminal justice and community building, is impacted by the legacy of trauma.

According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, we can assume that 64 percent of the general population of the U.S. has had at least one significant type of childhood trauma. Individual, community, inter-generational and historical trauma are all playing a significant role in the world we live. It seems that there is a herd of elephants roaming our systems of care, our communities, and our very own reflections in the mirrors that we pass. We have gotten so “comfortable” with them that we simply keep moving. When we foster a deepened understanding about trauma and what it does, we can shift our perspective as individuals and change the trajectory of the organizations that serve us.

On this path ahead, as the trauma outreach coordinator for Truman Medical Center, I have been blessed to witness the power of this movement growing in incremental ways, one — aha — moment at a time.

Resources: Learn more about how the brain is impacted by our experiences. Learn more about the ACE Study.

3 thoughts on “I Became Trauma-Informed

    Good morning!

    My name is Kortney Ward. I am a Social Work major at Avila University and am completing my practicing at Genesis School. I am currently in a policy class and one of my assignments is to create a policy for a problem I want to address. I’m very interested in Trauma Informed Care and am looking at making a policy requiring police officers who work in a school to go through TIC training. So right now I’m looking for an agency or police department that do require training for officers. Ms. Rein from Genesis thought you might be able to help me connect with someone.
    Any information is greatly appreciated!

    Thank you!
    Kortney Ward

    Thank you for your question, Kortney. I’ll send you an email with a few suggestions.

    Does this health system take a trauma-informed care approach system-wide, or only in behavioral health? If only in behavioral health, any plans to take the approach system-wide?

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