Trauma Informed Care

On June 9th, first-year graduate students participated in a workshop about Trauma Informed Care presented by Dr. Susan Elswick from the University of Memphis’ School of Social Work. Dr. Elswick defined trauma informed systems as systems whose primary purpose is “to deliver services and supports in a manner that acknowledges the role that violence and victimization play in the lives of children and families.”

The first step to being a trauma informed service provider is to be aware of the prevalence of trauma in our communities. Dr. Elswick educated students about the prevalence of trauma, the signs of trauma, and the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on individuals and families. She taught students about the 6 principles found in an effective trauma informed care approach (US Department of Health and Human Services):

  1. safety
  2. trustworthiness and transparency
  3. peer support
  4. collaborative decision making
  5. empowerment, voice and choice
  6. cultural, historical and gender issues

Students received practical information to foster resilience in children and adults who have experienced trauma, such as teaching parents to use serve and return interactions with their children and creating supportive community environments for children and families to flourish in. First-year student, Kamari Toney, reflected on her experience at the workshop stating, “This workshop deepened my understanding of how trauma can manifest in a range of behaviors, how to recognize them and understand their underlying causes. This awareness allows me to approach therapy sessions with greater patience, understanding, and tailored interventions.”

When asked how this workshop will impact her future practice as a clinician, first-year student Joyce McCormick shared, “If I work with parents of very young children, I want to educate them about ACEs and serve and return.” Kamari Toney responded “Overall, the workshop impacted me as a future speech-language pathologist by enabling me to provide more sensitive, effective, and individualized care to clients who have experienced trauma. It helped me to feel equipped with the knowledge, skills, and necessary mindset to create a safe and supportive environment that promotes healing, growth, and resilience.”

For more information on trauma informed care: