© 2023 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Practicing trauma-informed care is how we get better

Priscilla Du Preez

When determining your own need for mental health care – or the needs of your family – it is vital to consider not just the illnesses, but any past trauma that may have shaped those illnesses.

One in four children in the US experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. One in four women has experienced domestic violence. A sobering number of both women and men have been raped in their lives, often before the age of 10. Bearing all this in mind, mental health practitioners are becoming far more likely to shift the question from, “How are you feeling?”, to, “What has happened to cause you feel this way?” This is called trauma-informed care.

Trauma-informed care starts with a comprehensive understanding of any factors in your life that may have caused unresolved trauma. This means asking potentially uncomfortable questions, but the honest answers to those questions shape both the nature and the efficacy of the treatment experience.

Failure to uncover traumatic situations that may be contributing to anxiety or depressive disorders, addictions, or continuing cycles of abuse, would be akin to a doctor treating a breathing disorder without bothering to learn that you live in a home that is affected by mold. Treating the symptoms and then sending you home to continue to live in a situation where the underlying cause has not been addressed is not treatment, it’s a bandage. And you will likely be back with the same complaint in a matter of days or weeks.

A good therapist will ask these difficult questions, but they have to rely on you to be open with the answers. It’s how we get better.

Eric Litwiller has served the south central Kansas community through his work at Mental Health Association since September of 2017. As Director of Development and Communications, he is charged with seeking the private investment required to raise awareness of the scope of mental health concerns throughout the region in an effort to eliminate the unfair stigma associated with mental illness.