Trauma Informed Relational Practice

Many clients entering the health service sectors, particularly alcohol and other drug (AOD), mental health and family violence sectors, have a history of trauma.

This may be a past history of sexual or physical abuse, or exposure to a traumatic event such as an accident. Often the symptoms they present with are a response to trauma as much as they are ‘problems’ in themselves.

Trauma-informed perspectives are effective for providing a common understanding of presenting issues within and across a range of sectors in the health and welfare fields. Even where the common presenting issues may differ across sectors, a focus on trauma and trauma-informed care is relevant to most sectors and services across the fields of AOD, mental health, family violence and acquired brain injury.

Alongside this, a focus on families also has relevance to these sectors and services, both because family provides an important site of recovery from trauma but also because a focus on family enables greater potential to identify vulnerable children where parents are accessing adult oriented health services.

Each stage of a client’s journey with an organisation offers an opportunity to contribute to their healing. However, services often feel ill-equipped to deal directly with trauma.

Child Aware Approaches Project: Trauma-informed family sensitive for adult oriented health services

Funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services (previously known as Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA)), this project investigated and sought to understand the effective delivery of trauma-informed family sensitive practice in adult-oriented health services to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and their families.

Read the report here.

Enhancing trauma support

Clinicians can enhance engagement with traumatised individuals and families by:

  • creating safety
  • using existing ‘good practice’ knowledge and skills
  • building the therapeutic relationship
  • using a relational model
  • being collaborative and client led
  • employing a strengths-based model
  • psychoeducation
  • distress reduction and affect regulation
  • working with sub-groups within a family and co-therapy
  • including young people
  • supervision and self-care.

For more about how to apply a trauma informed family sensitive lens in adult health services download a copy of our guide [PDF 205.6 KB].