Evidence-Based Practice Project

Trauma and Mental Health Services

Image: Caution Children road signWhat is Trauma’s Role in Mental Health Settings? Trauma survivors make up a large percentage of the clients in most service settings, yet few include services to effectively engage, retain and treat their needs. Research demonstrates that psychological trauma contributes significantly in the development of many problems such as various psychiatric disorders, addictions, behavioral disorders, suicidal behavior, personality disorders and violent behavior. The methods employed by professionals can play a critical role in the resulting effects of trauma and its enduring consequences.

What is Trauma-informed Care (TIC)? TIC is a therapeutic approach to individuals exposed to trauma. It is designed to specifically provide care for individuals who have been traumatized (which includes any form of violence, child abuse, psychological maltreatment, or sexual abuse) and in such, these individuals require careful attention when seeking out mental health or substance abuse services (Jennings, 2004). Trauma-informed care ensures that professionals are informed about and sensitive to the trauma-related issues presented by individuals. TIC includes the following criteria: “promoting safety, preventing retraumatization, informing staff of the long term effects of trauma, emphasis on skill building rather than symptom management, a view of trauma as a defining and organizing experience that forms the core of individual identity, and a focus on what has happened, rather than what is wrong with the person” (Jennings, 2004).

What are Trauma-informed Specific Services? They are services which are designed to treat the actual sequelae of sexual, emotional or physical abuse trauma. Examples would include grounding techniques to help with the stabilization phase of symptoms as well as behavioral therapies which teach skills for dealing with their intense emotions.



There are many Evidence-based Practices that are trauma-informed. You can find them throughout the descriptions of EBPs for various diagnoses, especially PTSD. Although trauma may lead to PTSD in many situations, there are times that a diagnosis of PTSD is not applicable, and many of the interventions available are applicable to all who have experienced trauma in their lives.

To see a list of these practices, including the more general Trauma-informed practices, visit the site for Trauma-informed Evidence-based Practices



SAMHSA Trauma Literature Review

SAMHSA Trauma-Informed Care Manual

SAMHSA Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach


 Page Updated on 8/06/09