Key Terms: Definitions
There are a number of terms relating to trauma-informed change. Following is an explanation of these from the Trauma TIP:
Secondary trauma: “Secondary trauma” is trauma-related stress reactions and symptoms resulting from exposure to another individual’s traumatic experiences, rather than from exposure directly to a traumatic event. Secondary trauma can occur among behavioral health service providers across all behavioral health settings and among all professionals who provide services to those who have experienced trauma (e.g., healthcare providers, peer counselors, first responders, clergy, and intake workers).
Trauma: In this text, the term “trauma” refers to experiences that cause intense physical and psychological stress reactions. It can refer to a single event, multiple events, or a set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically and emotionally harmful or threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.
Trauma-informed: A trauma-informed approach to the delivery of behavioral health services includes an understanding of trauma and an awareness of the impact it can have across settings, services, and populations. It involves viewing trauma through an ecological and cultural lens and recognizing that context plays a significant role in how individuals perceive and process traumatic events, whether acute or chronic. It involves four key elements of a trauma-informed approach: (1) realizing the prevalence of trauma; (2) recognizing how trauma affects all individuals involved with the program, organization, or system, including its own workforce; (3) responding by putting this knowledge into practice; and (4) resisting retraumatization.
Trauma-informed care: TIC is a strengths-based service delivery approach that is grounded in an understanding of and responsiveness to the impact of trauma, that emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both providers and survivors, and that creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.
Trauma-specific treatment services: These services are evidence-based and promising practices that facilitate recovery from trauma. The term “trauma-specific services” refers to prevention, intervention, or treatment services that address traumatic stress as well as any co-occurring disorders (including substance use and mental disorders) that developed during or after trauma.