What does Trauma-Informed Mean?

“Trauma-informed” is how we describe the paradigm shift in understanding human behavior and human experience.

What Does “Trauma-Informed” Mean?

You will find the term “trauma-informed” has nuanced definitions which vary by source.  In the context of all content established by HERE this NOW, “trauma-informed” is how we describe the paradigm shift in understanding human behavior and human experience.

Prior to our relatively new understanding of the impacts of individual and collective trauma on human beings, we assumed that someone’s behavior, motivation, and health was rooted in their personal choices.  The primary onus for whether or not someone experienced success in life has been on the individual.  Praise resided with the individual: “Good for you—look at what you’ve accomplished!” as well as condemnation: “Why can’t you just pull yourself up by your bootstraps?”

HERE this NOW uses the term “trauma-informed” to reflect the growing body of science (i.e. neuroscience, developmental psychology, evolutionary biology, etc.) that suggests behavior, motivation, and health are an expression of an individual’s lived experience, family, and historical context.

“Trauma-informed” is an acknowledgement that as social mammals, we are first and foremost hard-wired for survival.  This means that much of what has been labeled mental illness, bad behavior, poor choices, and irresponsible decision-making is actually survival instinct out of context.

Furthermore, “trauma-informed” acknowledges that our public institutions operate in ways that do not honor our neurodevelopmental need for physiological regulation and safety.  When these needs are prioritized in our organizations and institutions, behavior, motivation, and health outcomes can be greatly improved for many people who experience adversity and long-standing marginalization.

This paradigm shift implores us to reexamine and reshape our organizational beliefs, habits, practices, and policies to reflect our revolutionized understanding of what it is to be human.

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