-by Timothy (Tim) Grivois, Ed.D.
I am tired of talking about trauma-informed care.
I understand that the number of children who not only experience traumatic events but also suffer lasting injury that affects how they engage learning, life, and love, is shockingly high. Nevertheless, I do not and will not believe that we should accept trauma as a normal part of growing up. It is time to create communities where adversity is expected and trauma is rare.
And, while I was sitting down to research this blog post, I discovered that several authors have already written from their own professional experience, and their work is exceptional. Here are two articles on how caring professionals might move beyond the mental model of trauma informed care:
Shawn Ginwright, PhD. The Future of Healing: Shifting From Trauma Informed Care to Healing Centered Engagement.
This article describes the lineage and limits of trauma-informed care, acknowledging the harm that can accompany a practice meant to support youth who have experienced trauma.
Dr. Ginwright explains that “A healing centered approach to addressing trauma requires a different question that moves beyond “what happened to you” to “what’s right with you” and views those exposed to trauma as agents in the creation of their own-well being rather than victims of traumatic events.” This connects to the youth-centered approach to behavioral support that tends to be more effective and respectful of youth.
Lauren Padilla. Beyond Trauma-Informed Care is a Healing-Centered, Culturally Rooted Approach.
In this article, Lauren Padilla interviews Héctor Sánchez-Flores, who is the executive director of the National Compadres Network. While Sánchez-Flores offers insight into nearly every limitation of the dominant approach to trauma-informed care, I believe that the most important aspect of this interview is how he explains how the whiteness of trauma-informed care communicates to youth, women, and people of color across all ages and genders that they are insufficient and need something else to heal. Instead, Sánchez-Flores describes how viewing a person’s culture as an asset and connecting them to a healing community is an essential—and sustainable—approach to helping those who have experienced trauma to heal.
Finally, I want to share that I could only find two articles with much to offer on healing-centered care. However, there are thousands of resources for putting those you serve at the center of the supports you build. What I invite us to consider, especially those of us who are caring professionals, is to examine whether the way we express care for others communicates our unmitigated confidence that our students, clients, and community are capable of discovering for themselves what healing means.
In my professional life, I’ve made a commitment to support a trauma-informed approach to care when no such approach currently exists. Now, however, it is time to elevate our understanding of what a healing-centered approach might mean for those we serve and for us as caring professionals.