Karuna therapists work from a trauma-informed perspective. Trauma-informed care views trauma-related symptoms and behaviors as an individual’s best and most resilient attempt to manage, cope with, and rise above his or her experience of trauma.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), trauma is an emotional or physical response to one or more physically harmful or life threatening events or circumstances, with lasting adverse effects on mental and physical well-being. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) adds that exposure to actual or threatened events involving death, serious injury, or sexual violation can occur in one (or more) of the following ways: directly experiencing the events, witnessing the events in person as they occur to others. learning that the events occurred to a close family member or friend, or experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to adverse details of the events.
Often, traumatic events are unexpected. Events may be human-made, such as a mechanical error that causes a disaster, war, terrorism, sexual abuse, or violence, or they can be the products of nature (e.g., flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes). Trauma can occur at any age or developmental stage, and often, events that occur outside expected life stages are perceived as traumatic (e.g., a child dying before a parent, cancer as a teen, personal illness, job loss before retirement). It is not just the event itself that determines whether something is traumatic, but also the individual’s experience of the event. Two people may be exposed to the same event or series of events but experience and interpret these events in vastly different ways due to various biopsychosocial and cultural factors.
Trauma-informed therapists emphasize the following areas in their practice:
- Physical and emotional safety. A trauma-informed therapist will take steps to ensure that clients feel both physically and emotionally safe in their sessions.
- Collaboration. Trauma-informed therapists aim to empower clients by educating them about their options and giving them an active role in their care.
- Transparency. Trauma-informed therapists are open and honest with clients
- Competency. Trauma-informed therapists make sure that they are educated and up-to-date in research and best practices for working with clients who have experienced trauma. They are also aware of the unique cultural considerations that each client experiences.
- Understanding the impact of intergenerational and racial trauma.
A trauma-informed approach can assist in the ability to rise above the circumstance or to meet challenges with fortitude and resilience.