Trauma may be more common than you think. Over half the nation’s adult population has reported experiencing a traumatic event in their lifetime, and more than two-thirds before they were 17, according to the U.S. Department of Health’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Though not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will have lasting effects from it, those who do may find it difficult to be in some situations, triggering an overwhelming stress response. This type of lasting impact is more likely to affect members of the LGBTQ+ community and those with prior traumatic experiences, lower income, lower cognitive abilities, smaller support networks, and combat exposure.
Being aware of these facts and other factors of trauma while interacting with people in a clinical or organizational context is the basis for an approach known as “trauma-informed care” or TIC.
The IU Center for Rural Engagement, in collaboration with the School of Public Health-Bloomington, and the School of Social Work, is now offering a free, virtual, self-paced, certification course in trauma-informed care.
“Trauma is quite prevalent across the human experience,” said John Keesler, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work who collaborated with Alex Purcell at the School of Public Health to develop the certification program. “TIC training can help to increase awareness and understanding at an accessible level and doesn’t require advanced degrees.”
With more than 20 years of experience working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Keesler authored the premier article on the integration of TIC and intellectual and developmental disabilities in 2014. Keesler said that TIC is about creating an environment that is conducive to wellness and healing rather than stress and toxicity.
“Every organization has its culture and climate, its beliefs, its values, its feel,” said Keesler. “When you walk into a place, you know what it feels like to be there, and sometimes you walk through the door and you’re like, ‘I don't want to be here.’”
Keesler piloted the trauma-informed care professional development certificate with Stone Belt, a south-central Indiana-based service provider for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Stone Belt supports its clients with a variety of resources, including therapeutic services, employment placement, apartment and group home residence, wellness and fitness activities, and a thriving arts program.