Trauma Informed Practice: a short guide

At Future Pathways, we take a trauma-informed approach in our work with people. We know from feedback that people value this approach. 

People tell us it is important that they:

  • feel safe
  • can trust a service or provider
  • have choices about what support looks like
  • can work alongside a service
  • can influence their own support

So, we encourage services we work with to have a trauma-informed approach too.

Below, we give a short introduction to trauma and give a few pointers about things you can keep in mind when working with someone affected by trauma. 

If you would like to find out more, download our short guide to Trauma Informed Practice.
What is trauma?

Trauma is when a person experiences something as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening. Trauma can come from an event, a series of events or an ongoing situation. Not everyone will be affected in the same way.

How might trauma affect people?

Trauma can have a lasting effect on people’s mental, physical and emotional wellbeing and can leave people with a sense that they are not safe in some situations or around some people.

Trauma can affect people in different ways at different times. It can also affect someone a long time after an incident has happened.

Trauma can cause people to feel distressed or fearful. Some people may find it harder to trust people or may struggle to manage emotions. For others, trauma can mean a person might find it harder to look after themselves or they may also live with disabilities or health conditions. Everyone experiences trauma differently.

Things to keep in mind:
  • It can be difficult or stressful to have a stranger in the home. The person you visit might choose to have a friend, relative or support worker there on the day to help them manage that stress. It is important that people know they are safe. You may know that you don’t pose a threat or risk to someone else but that person will not know this and may choose to keep a distance from you, maybe even asking the friend, relative or support worker to talk to you for them.
  • Some projects might require a group of people to come into the person’s home. The person you visit might prefer to know how many people they can expect and who they are. Where possible, keeping the number of people in the group as low as possible can help the person feel safe in their home. It is helpful to be clear about who will be there and when they will be there.
  • If you arrange to meet someone on a certain day or time, you should try to keep the appointment. This also means not arriving late or early. It can be difficult for people to let a new person into their personal space, so being consistent is important. If you can’t make it, give the person as much notice as possible. If you’re unable to give advance notice, please do make a courtesy call on the day you were due to meet (as limited or no communication could cause considerable distress).
  • It is important to respect people’s privacy. This means not talking about the details of work you have completed or are completing for Future Pathways clients to anyone who is not involved in the work. Keeping this information confidential builds trust with people.
  • It is important that people feel safe enough to make choices that are right for them. Make sure that when the person makes decisions, these are respected.
  • Allowing additional time for someone to make a decision can be helpful as decision making can be difficult for some people.
  • Boundaries and predictability are important for everyone but even more so for people who have experienced trauma. Please do not discuss your past experiences with the person. It is also important that the relationship is kept professional and that you don’t attempt to make contact with the person other than about issues related to the job.

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