Frontline Initiative Trauma-Informed Care

Frontline Notes

Many people with intellectual or developmental disabilities have experienced trauma in their lives. Often they receive little or no treatment for the effects of this trauma. Traumatic experiences can lead to mental health problems and difficult behavior. However trauma is often not recognized as a source of a person’s behavior. Therefore, little is done to get to the root of the depression, anxiety, paranoia, or aggression.

It is also widely accepted that most people who have lived in institutions experienced some form of trauma. As people moved from institutions, there was little understanding of how this would impact their transition and their future. Often service providers are unprepared to address the effects of trauma on the people they support.

Research shows how trauma informed care can be a helpful approach to supporting someone who has experienced trauma. Because of this, it is critical that direct support professionals (DSPs) have an understanding of trauma and its effects. DSPs need to know how to support individuals who have experienced trauma. This can include making connections with local resources, using positive support strategies, and seeking assistance when needed.

We encourage DSPs to spend time learning from the research and resources in this issue of Frontline Initiative. We encourage DSPs to become more comfortable with trauma-informed care through training and education. More can be done to support people who have had trauma in their lives. We hope that this issue of Frontline Initiative will move the discussion forward and improve the practice of DSPs.