How Trauma-Informed Services Cultivate Empathy

Posted by Maryvale on Feb 15, 2024 1:19:58 PM


At Maryvale, we are proponents of a trauma-informed mental health approach and believe in the power of going beyond addressing symptoms to foster genuine empathy and understanding. We work with some of Los Angeles’ most vulnerable populations, and we see firsthand the effect trauma has on people’s lives – especially for children. When a person is the victim of a violent attack, sexual assault, a traumatic accident, or the witness of a sudden, shocking event, it can be difficult to imagine them recovering and re-integrating into everyday life. Trauma-informed mental health services recognize the pervasive psychological impact of trauma on individuals and seek to create environments that cultivate resilience and healing while centering clients’ lived experiences. 


Understanding How Trauma-Informed Care Works

Trauma-informed care is a framework that acknowledges that trauma affects many people and has lasting effects on a person’s mental health and ability to function in the world. Whether stemming from adverse childhood experiences, domestic violence, or other life-altering events, trauma can shape an individual's responses to stress, relationships, and self-perception. The core principles of trauma-informed care include safety, transparency, peer support, agency, and cultural sensitivity. 


Physical and emotional safety is paramount in trauma-informed mental health services. By creating an environment where individuals feel safe and respected, practitioners lay the groundwork for developing trust and empathy. Practitioners take trust seriously and build relationships with clients through clear communication and transparent decision-making. They also recognize the importance of peer support and collaborative relationships in recovery. Trauma-informed care puts the client in the driver’s seat and fosters a sense of empowerment and agency by involving individuals in decision-making about their treatment. For this approach to be effective, practitioners need to acknowledge and respect diverse backgrounds, cultural influences, and individual experiences.


Empathy as a Cornerstone of Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed mental health services prioritize validating their clients’ lived experiences – and giving space to the experiences that feel untouchable or difficult to discuss because they are so shocking or disturbing. Practitioners actively listen and acknowledge the impact of trauma without judgment, creating a space where survivors feel heard and understood. Knowing that trauma can trigger distressing reactions, trauma-informed care encourages mental health professionals to respond empathetically and with great patience. Sensitivity to potential triggers is crucial for creating an atmosphere of safety and trust – and for avoiding re-traumatization. 


Trauma-informed care embraces a person-centered approach, recognizing that each individual's journey is unique. Care providers adopt a collaborative role by upholding a client as a worthy, important person, allowing clients to participate in their treatment and recovery actively. Trauma survivors may have heightened sensitivity to issues of personal space and boundaries. Trauma-informed care involves respecting these boundaries, allowing individuals to navigate their healing journey at a pace that feels comfortable to them.


Empowering Resilience and Post-Traumatic Growth

Trauma-informed care embraces a strengths-based perspective, focusing on clients’ inherent resilience rather than framing them through the lens of victimhood. This approach imparts self-efficacy and promotes the belief that from healing, a healthy life is possible.


Trauma-informed mental health services aim not only to alleviate symptoms but also to support individuals in finding meaning and growth beyond their traumatic experiences. This perspective acknowledges the potential for a bright future that is unlocked from the challenges created by previous hardship, where clients develop increased resilience, compassion, and a deeper appreciation for life.


Trauma-informed mental health services extend beyond individual therapy to community engagement and advocacy. Educating the community about trauma fosters empathy on a broader scale, reducing stigma and promoting a culture of understanding and support. Trauma-informed care involves collaborating with community resources, such as schools, social services, addiction recovery services, housing programs, and more, to create a comprehensive network of support. This collaborative approach ensures that individuals experiencing trauma receive a seamless continuum of care. In embracing the principles of trauma-informed care, we pave the way for a future where empathy becomes a cornerstone of mental health services, promoting healing and resilience for all. Learn more about how Maryvale provides compassionate care to those who need it most.



Topics: trauma informed care