Health Care

Healthcare providers in all manners of practice are presented with the challenges of treating the immediate needs of illness and promoting long-term health quality over the lifespan. Medicine seeks to diagnose the presenting physiological problem, deliver options for recovery, and integrate preventative care measures for the future.

Incorporating trauma-informed care into one’s interactions with patients has the potential to elevate the patient’s overall wellness and gives professional a more detailed true picture of health. Scientific research (such as the ACE Study) has revealed the destructive toll adversity can take on person’s health physiologically, psychologically, and behaviorally.

In fact, childhood adversity’s scope and influence can literally change biological processes, alter the brain architecture of neurodevelopment, and cause havoc on the immune system. Becoming trauma-informed can equip healthcare providers (such physicians, nurses, technicians) with the crucial information linked to trauma’s impact on health and can showcase viable options in integrating this data into practice.

Please review the resources and tools below for more information on being a trauma-informed healthcare provider and promoting security and wellness in families.

Articles, Factsheets, and Handouts for Healthcare Professionals

“Trauma Toolbox for Primary Care”
By: Heather Forkey, RJ Gillespie, Teri Pettersen, Lisa Spector, John Stirling
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
Date: 2014

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ “Trauma Toolbox for Primary Care” educates primary care physicians (PCPs) on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), discusses the multilayered impact ACEs have on dimensions of health, and offers guidance to incorporate this information into practice. The toolbox was developed as a six-part series, with each section addressing a crucial component of understanding ACEs and applying a trauma-informed perspective to a healthcare context. The following topics are included in the series: 1. Adverse Childhood Experiences and the Lifelong Consequences of Trauma, 2. Addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences and Other Types of Trauma in the Primary Care Setting, 3. The Medical Home Approach to Identifying and Responding to Exposure to Trauma, 4. Bring Out the Best in Your Children, 5.  When Things Aren’t Perfect: Caring for Yourself and Your Children, and 6. Protecting Physician Wellness: Working With Children Affected by Traumatic Events (Forkey, et. al, 2014).

“Healthcare Toolbox: Your Guide to Helping Children and Families Cope with Illness and Injury”
By: Nancy Kassam-Adams, Stephanie Schneider, and Anne E. Kazak
Source: Center for Pediatric Stress, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Date: 2013

The “Healthcare Toolbox: Your Guide to Helping Children and Families Cope with Illness and Injury” is an online platform of multifaceted resources focused on supplying healthcare providers with a comprehensive framework for working with families and improving the health outcomes of children. This resource provides a broader spectrum for interpreting the health concerns of families and is designed to improve practicing procedures for professionals. The website follows a concise strategy for implementing trauma-informed care called DEF: Reduce Distress (i.e. “Ask about fears and worries”), Emotional Support (i.e. “Who and what does the patient need now”), and Remember the Family (i.e. “Gauge family stressors and resources”) (Kassam-Adams, et. al, 2013, Homepage).

“Helping Foster and Adoptive Families Cope with Trauma”
By: Heather Forkey, Andy Garner, Lisa Nalven, Samantha Schilling, and John Stirling
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics
Date: 2015

Foster and adoptive families face a unique set of struggles linked to the challenges in functioning of the children in their care and the adjustment process of establishing new family bonds. The “Helping Foster and Adoptive Families Cope with Trauma” booklet was created by the American Academy of Pediatrics to build a healing alliance between caregivers and pediatricians. Children with histories of trauma face numerous hardships in overcoming the toll adversity has on their physiological, psychological, and behavioral health. This resource serves as an overview for pediatricians to aid to addressing the complex needs of traumatized children and fostering strong connection within a family system. “The purpose of this guide is to support adoptive and foster families by strengthening the abilities of pediatricians to: 1) identify traumatized children, 2) educate families about toxic stress and the possible biological, behavioral, and social manifestations of early childhood trauma, and 3) empower families to respond to their child’s behavior in a manner that acknowledges past trauma but promotes the learning of new, more adaptive reactions to stress,” (Forkey, et. al, 2015, p. 2).

Videos for Healthcare Professionals

“The Repair of Early Trauma: A Bottom Up Approach”
By: Beacon House
Source: YouTube
Date: August 7th, 2017
Time: 11:16

“The Repair of Early Trauma: A Bottom Up Approach” video showcases an approach for addressing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the consequences of “developmental trauma” (i.e. trauma during childhood, which disrupts typical attachment and the progression through neurodevelopment) (Beacon House, 2017). The Neuro Sequential Model, also known as a “bottom-up” approach, applies neuroscience research related to the brain’s architecture, to a treatment method of advancing recovery and rewiring brain connections to their intended state. It focuses on a sequenced intervention, correlated to the typical areas of brain development in their intended order: 1. Brainstem (i.e. primitive brain, somatic/sensory), 2. Limbic brain (i.e. attachment, emotional and behavioral regulation), and 3. Cortical brain (i.e. self-esteem, dissociation, and cognitive problems) (Beacon House, 2017).