Trauma-Informed Care and Mindfulness
Trauma-informed care is an approach to human services that assumes that an individual is more likely to have a history of trauma than not. As such, it takes environments that could inadvertently re-traumatize someone and promotes environments of healing and recovery instead.
Most people don’t realize how common trauma is or how many different forms it comes in. When providers – medical or educational – realize this, they are better able to serve the individuals in front of them.
One method that has come through in the field is mindfulness. Whether you’re a therapist or a teacher, you have the power to make the patient or student in front of you feel calm, safe, and valued. A brain that has been through trauma has been drastically impacted by toxic stress. Here’s what you should know about how you can help facilitate mindfulness in students.
How you (as the provider) can react mindfully
- Take a deep breath. Trauma-informed care can be challenging. Yet, when you shift your mindset from, “What’s wrong with this child?” to “What happened to this child?” you may find that care is easier. Your role is to understand, support, and encourage the child in any way you can. You are part of the support system they need.
- Understand the trauma response. Fear, shame, guilt, and hyper-vigilance are common reactions to trauma. If the child is acting defiant, avoidant, or manipulative, then they may just be responding in a way that helps their needs get met. Understanding this behavior can help you reach out and support them more effectively.
- Mindfulness helps everyone. Did you know that you can regulate yourself by knowing your triggers? If you’re calm and regulated, then the child in question can regulate themselves off of you. In essence, being in the presence of a calm, mindful, regulated adult is a positive experience for a child and can help them re-write their brains and bodies.
- Build external relationships with students. If you’re a teacher, learn more about your students than just what you’re teaching in the classroom. Learn about their interests and dreams. This shows them that you care about them as people – not just as students.
- Teach children about their brains. This knowledge can transfer directly to coping skills. If children know about their stress response system, then they can gain basic coping skills that allow them to soon themselves in a trauma state mindset. They can breathe mindfully, ask for help, etc.
- Keep triggers in mind. Practicing mindfulness takes time. Invite them to partake in these skills but don’t force them into it. Also, keep in mind the appropriate alternatives to each activity. For example, a child may not like to close his/her eyes but may be open to looking down at the floor.
Helping survivors and victims of childhood trauma can be challenging, but trauma-informed care may be one beneficial method. Derek Clark, a motivational speaker and inspirational author, is a vital resource on this topic. Interested in learning more? Visit here to contact him about trainings, conferences, meetings, and special events. Derek is available for both in-person and virtual events!