Trauma Informed Practice: Generating a Safe Space for Clients and Practitioners Alike
Family Life’s core business has always involved working with traumatised children, families and communities. Family Life places Trauma Informed Practice (TIP) at the core of our organisational strategy. TIP, which focuses on the implications of trauma on the individual, those around them and the systems and services with which they come into contact, is central to our activities as well as our core principles and values. Our commitment to TIP has transformed our service delivery across all levels of the organisation.
What is Trauma Informed Practice?
Trauma Informed Practice (TIP) is founded on five principles – safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment. A trauma informed “lens” generates an understanding of trauma and its effects on the individual and the systems around them, and this information guides our response. A trauma informed approach assists us to address the challenges faced by people who have experienced trauma by prioritising strength building, skill acquisition and access to positive relationships and community over symptom management.
To be truly effective, successful application of TIP calls for a cultural and philosophical shift that goes beyond the practitioner-client relationship and permeates all areas of a service or organisation.
Family Life’s Journey with TIP
As an advocate for outcome-based, innovative practice, Family Life has always been committed to exploring the benefits of TIP. In 2014 Family Life was introduced to Dr Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT), an evidence based approach to working with traumatised children in a trauma informed way. In 2016, Family Life embarked on official NMT certification, transforming not only our service delivery but our culture and operational landscape as well.
By embedding trauma informed practice to all facets of the organisation – from the executive board to client-facing staff – we have successfully generated an organisation-wide understanding of trauma, leading to a top-down culture of safety and support that is not only physically safe but culturally and emotionally safe as well.
As a key tenet of TIP, safety – and the climate it creates – is transformational. At the practitioner level, a safe environment leads to client empowerment and development whilst at the organisational level, it is a launchpad for innovation and growth and has been fundamental in guiding Family Life’s annual strategy.
Trauma Informed Practice and a Commitment to Organisational Training
At Family Life, the application of TIP principles fosters a ‘dream big’ philosophy and generates a space in which people feel comfortable to share ideas and dare to be innovative, bold and inclusive.
TIP has similarly shaped Family Life’s approach to organisational training. Exploring systematically strengths, weaknesses and gaps in training has created a model that guarantees all staff members a professional development plan that aligns individual training requirements with Family Life’s big-picture goals.
This commitment to knowledge enhancement across the board leads to the exposure of new concepts and ideas. Dr Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) in particular, which explores the impact of trauma on the developing brain of a child, has shaped much of Family Life’s subsequent programmes, such as Hopscotch and Strength 2 Strength.
Hopscotch uses world-leading research on brain development to guide Family Life’s response to children and families. It delivers individualised services for parents in need of support to recover from trauma and neglect and also strengthens existing models of child protection through a holistic understanding of trauma and its wide-reaching effects.
As a strength-based model, it focuses on strengthening the family’s capacity for recovery and consciously incorporates tried-and-tested resources that have a history of success.
Strength 2 Strength
Strength 2 Strength was developed to offer trauma-informed therapeutic services to women and children exposed to family violence. Applying NMT principles, our practitioners design interventions that address the unique effects of trauma on clients and their communities.
Tools in the Strength 2 Strength repertoire include Children’s Occupational Therapy, Family Therapy, Women’s and Children’s Psychology, Sexual Assault Counselling and social work support throughout the therapy process.
Family Life’s incorporation of TIP principles into the heart of the organisation has had an undeniable effect on its culture and strategy. In turn, this confirms Family Life’s position as a knowledge and innovation expert in community services and has enhanced the way in which we are able to generate lasting positive change within the communities it supports.