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Trauma Informed Tips

Below are some of our favorite reminders about ways to integrate trauma and resilience informed principles into your work and daily interactions.

  • Create trauma informed environments. For example, let participants know if you will be closing the door or turning off the lights for a presentation. If you can, offer options for how much lighting is on. You never know how these changes in environment might affect someone based on their past experiences.
  • Understand that trauma and stress affect everyone differently. Two people may share the same traumatic event but have different experiences and outcomes. Even if the situation does not seem that serious to you, it may be traumatic for someone else.
  • Avoid judgments and stereotypes. Recognize that everyone is walking into every situation with their own story and experiences. Consider how these stories and experiences might impact their behaviors.
  • Ask trauma sensitive questions when addressing sensitive topics. Instead of asking, “What is wrong with you?” ask, “What have you been through?”
  • Recognize that people communicate on many different levels. A large percentage of communication is non-verbal. Be mindful of your tone of voice, gestures, and facial expressions.
  • Build healthy relationships and practice trauma informed care by prioritizing honesty and transparency. Answer questions individuals may have in a direct, calm manner.
  • Offer options to those you are caring for and allow them to have a voice in decisions that will impact their everyday lives. Giving individuals’ the power to make their own decisions supports resilience. It can be as simple as, “Would you prefer to use a pencil or a pen?”
  • Be reliable and keep consistent schedules and rules in order to create a safe, stable environment for providers, consumers, and families. When changes are necessary, offer adequate time for preparation.
  • Observe and try to understand others’ feelings. Showing empathy demonstrates you understand and are concerned about the feelings a person may be experiencing. It also promotes pro-social behavior.
  • Take care of your emotional health. Your emotions matter too. Recognizing your own cues and identifying your emotions is important when serving others. The presence of a calm, regulated adult can create a calm, supportive environment for others.
  • Be an attentive listener. According to research published by the American Psychological Association, people tend to identify others’ emotions more accurately when they listen opposed to solely relying on facial cues. Listening attentively to colleagues, consumers, and family members can help build strong relationships, avoid misunderstandings, and resolve conflicts. Listening also validates the speaker and allows their voice to be heard.
  • Focus on individuals’ strengths. Working collaboratively with colleagues, consumers, and families to identify their inherent strengths and setting strengths-based goals helps build resilience.
  • Be patient. Trauma can have long-term effects on every aspect of a person’s life. The healing process can happen quickly for some and may take a longer time for others. Be supportive and do not rush anyone’s healing process.

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