What is the difference between “Trauma-Informed” and “Trauma-Specific”

The terms “trauma-informed” and “trauma-specific” are often confused and used interchangeably, but they are actually distinct in their meaning. The distinctions between the two terms made by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) are as follows: a trauma- informed approach is implemented in any type of service setting, such as a dual diagnosis treatment facility, whereas trauma-specific interventions are designed to specifically address the consequences of trauma.

Trauma-specific interventions focus solely on facilitating healing from traumatic events, such as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), combat, death or loss of a loved one, such as loss of a parent through divorce or a significant other through a separation. An individual who suffered from childhood abuse due to mental illness in an aggressive parent would benefit from trauma- specific interventions if the individual never had a drug and alcohol history.

A trauma-informed approach means that a client, in the context of substance abuse treatment, for example, would receive counseling from a clinician who is knowledgeable about the effects of trauma on the client’s lifestyle choices. The clinician would examine the client’s substance use as it relates to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), adverse childhood experiences, and other trauma-related factors that propel the individual toward substance abuse. A trauma-informed approach takes into account the cause-and-effect relationship between drug use and traumatic experiences, but it does not mean that the addiction recovery program treats the impact of trauma on a client’s life.

How does trauma-informed approach minimize re-traumatization?

Retelling events of the past that produced PTSD may re-traumatize the individual who’s sharing his or her personal story. Trauma-informed substance abuse counselors show sensitivity to their clients’ readiness to share their narrative. In short-term settings, counselors do not force their clients to be transparent; instead, they focus on other areas of healing, such as teaching them healthy coping mechanisms and new skills that will stabilize and prepare them for future trauma processing therapies, reducing the risk of harm.

What are the signs and symptoms of trauma?

Signs of trauma can be manifested in various ways, such as substance abuse, eating disorders, and mood disorders. Trauma symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Numbness
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Withdrawal
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling disconnected
  • Hopelessness
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Confusion
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Denial
  • Disbelief
  • Event-related distress
  • Dissociative reactions (“reliving the event”)
  • Involuntary memories of the event (flashbacks)
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Lethargy
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Aches and pains
  • Muscle tension
  • Avoidance of any reminders (e.g., people, locations, activities and other external factors related to the event)

What types of trauma-informed approaches does New Method Wellness offer?

New Method Wellness provides levels of trauma-informed care, which are as follows:

Unique to New Method Wellness’s programs is the 3:1 staff-to-client ratio, which means that every single client is paired with two clinicians to ensure individualized attention and high-quality care. One of the top-rated addiction treatment centers in America, New Method Wellness offers a wide array of holistic programs that yield high success rates and long-term recovery. More than just a drug and alcohol rehab center, New Method Wellness aims to heal the whole individual – mind, body, and spirit.

For more information about New Method Wellness’s programs, call 866.951.1824!

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