According to CDC data, 1 in 4 children experiences some form of trauma or abuse in their childhood. More sobering statistics indicate that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have experienced rape at some point in their lives. These numbers suggest that many people, male and female, young and old, have and will experience trauma in their lifetime.
Treating Health in People with Trauma
If you’ve ever gone to the doctor or been treated at an emergency room, you know that the entire scenario can feel incredibly invasive. Sensitive questions are often asked, intimate body parts may need to be examined, and the medical treatment may be uncomfortable and even painful.
How can medical professionals provide quality healthcare to people who have experienced some form of trauma in their past? Through trauma-informed care.
What is Trauma-Informed Care?
Trauma-informed care is an approach to healthcare with a focus on safety, empowerment, and healing. This style of care is particularly helpful for sexual abuse survivors.
The hallmark of providing trauma-informed care is for the health professional to SIMPLY ASSUME that each individual may have experienced some form of trauma. When medical professionals make this assumption, then everyone they treat is done so in a deliberately compassionate, empowering way that communicates that the patient IS THE ONE IN CHARGE of his/her/their body and care. This can mean many different things but typically it means clear and gentile communication. It means inviting the patient to speak to their needs if they need a break from a painful or embarrassing exam. It also means allowing a family member to be present during the exam if need be.
The bottom line is, that trauma-informed care puts the mental and emotional needs on equal footing with a patient’s physical needs at that moment. It is an approach that requires compassion and a desire to heal the entire person.