When Past is Prologue

Michelle’s Corner 10.19.20

When Past is Prologue

When I was studying for my MS in Science Education–yes, I was going to be a teacher, sort of–there was a philosophy that many of us thought really helped us figure out how to help our students learn. It was called Constructivism. 

Simply put–without all the educational jargon–when we come upon new information, we use what we already know (or think we know) to understand that new information. We aren’t “clean slates” but rather a tower of Legos, built up over time, ready for the next brick to be placed on top of what we’ve already learned and experienced.

What does this have to do with ShelterCare? 

We at ShelterCare follow a similar philosophy called “Trauma-Informed Care” for our consumers. We believe that each and every one of the individuals who come for support and assistance has a story that has shaped their lives with both good experiences and bad. Our therapists, case managers, and peer support specialists create plans that are based upon unique individual needs rather than a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach. 

Being an agency that subscribes to Trauma-Informed Care is more than how we approach our consumers. It must also be part of our organizational culture for our employees and community partners. 

There are four main steps a company must take to adopt a trauma-informed culture:

  1. Building awareness and generating buy-in for a trauma-informed approach with all staff and board members;
  2. Supporting a culture of staff wellness (both mental and physical);
  3. Hiring a workforce that embodies the values of trauma-informed care with diversity and inclusion; and
  4. Creating a safe physical, social and emotional environment.

Adopting an organizational culture like this is an ongoing process that requires constant communication and making adjustments as we learn about ourselves, our consumers and our community. It’s not easy but worth the effort so that all of our employees and clients feel valued for what they bring to our agency each and every day.

ShelterCare is striving towards this culture, and we have work to do. I don’t believe that there will ever be a time when there won’t be an opportunity for us to do better, but I am proud to be part of a team with this philosophy which is also supported by our leadership.

For more information on Trauma-Informed Care there are many resources available, but for this blog I reference the Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Center at www.traumainformedcare.chcs.org 

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