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What Does Trauma-Informed Mean? – The LGI Approach   

In the world of trauma discussions, many individuals and organizations state that they are “trauma-informed.” Lakeside Global Institute (LGI) also considers itself to be a trauma-informed organization.

I’m going to share the 21 qualities we embrace that we believe allows us to say that we are indeed trauma-informed. Other organizations may have their own list describing their criteria. As you read this list, you can decide for yourself the degrees to which any organization or any individual is trauma-informed.

Let’s start with a quote from one of the trauma experts, Dr. Sandra Bloom, who gives a broad definition of trauma-informed care:

“Trauma-informed Care is care that is grounded and directed by a thorough understanding of the neurological, biological, psychological, cultural, moral, and social effects of trauma and violence on humans.”  

For LGI, we offer the following list to provide a specific definition of what trauma-informed means to us.

What does it mean to be Trauma-Informed?

It is where each person …

  1. can define key terms related to trauma, with each level involving a deeper understanding of these terms. There needs to be both an understanding and explanation as to why it is important
  2. is knowledgeable about, and aware of, and then understands the many possible causes of trauma, the needs created by trauma, and the expected behaviors of someone who has been trauma impacted
  3. is knowledgeable about the LGI Bridge of Integration and can explain each part
  4. knows key principles of trauma: LGI’s and those from SAMSHA
  5. can explain the price, prevalence and power of trauma
  6. understands the principles of the Ethical Dimension of Relationships and can apply them to the subject of trauma
  7. incorporates multi-directed partiality in interactions
  8. can explain various types of trauma
  9. is aware of the common underlying beliefs of trauma-impacted people
  10. knows basic information about the brain and the impact of trauma on brain architecture and functioning, can explain Bruce Perry’s four levels, and other important brain parts like the amygdala and hippocampus, brain states, the 3Rs, and the ACEs research
  11. can explain each aspect of PART (how someone Prevents trauma from occurring, knows how to Avoid triggering someone with unresolved trauma, knows how to Respond when someone has been triggered and can encourage Therapeutic interventions for someone experiencing PTSD) which describes the responsibilities of the trauma-informed person
  12. practices trauma humility
  13. has explored key websites and has read a minimum of three books including Dr. Perry and Dr. Cozolino
  14. is familiar with and can describe key approaches to responding to trauma symptoms: e.g., somatic experiencing, EMDR
  15. when encountering challenging, difficult or confusing behaviors especially in children, immediately wonders if these reflect unresolved trauma
  16. knows why flashbacks and triggers can be worse than the trauma itself
  17. appreciates and uses the principles of dosing
  18. can explain why deep breathing exercises and practices such as meditation and mindfulness can be triggering for someone who has unresolved trauma
  19. knows when and how to create and use PADs (LGI’s use of Predictions, Acknowledgments and Disclaimers)
  20. respects and uses the principles and practices that differentiate therapy and education, and appreciates that we use therapeutic education in much of our work
  21. effectively uses the communication skills of LATE: Listening, Affirming, Teaching and Exploring and is intentional about the use of continuum language in their communication

Having this list helps all of us in LGI maintain very high standards regarding expectations of our trainings and trainers. As people go through our workshops and courses, our trainers guide them in the process that allows them to become trauma-informed.

We live in a world where many people and organizations declare they are trauma-informed. I hope this list provides some clarity to my readers about one set of expectations for anyone declaring that they are trauma-informed. I hope you as a critical thinker and careful consumer will find this to be a very useful list as you consider yourself and those around you in terms of the extent to which you and they are trauma informed.

Invitation for Reflection

  1. To what extent do you consider yourself trauma-informed?
  2. As you read this list, in what area do you believe you are already competent?
  3. What things on the list raised your curiosity, things you wish you knew more about?
  4. What do you think you could do to enhance your degree of being trauma-informed?