How can you be culturally responsive in a trauma-informed approach?

A trauma-informed approach involves ensuring services do not retraumatize the person seeking them. Without an understanding of ongoing risk, treatment may be compromised and services may be unsafe. Without attending to culture, services can not be provided in the most relevant and accessible way possible. A toolkit from the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Mental Health informs that a culturally responsive trauma informed approach includes:

  • Integrating accessibility as a fundamental goal
  • Normalizing the human response to individual and collective trauma
  • Offering a holistic approach to treatment
  • Nurturing empathic connections
  • Fostering understanding of our own responses and their potential impact
  • Recognizing the role of culture, social context, structural violence
  • Recognizing the pervasiveness and impact of trauma and victimization
  • Recognizing ongoing and historical experiences of discrimination and oppression, and working to address social conditions that perpetuate abuse, trauma, discrimination, and disparities
  • Supporting resilience, healing, and well-being

In order to do this, consider the physical and sensory environment by making sure it is inclusive, accessible, and welcoming to people of all different backgrounds. Cultural and linguistic needs must be met by being affirming, responsive, representative, being accessible for people who speak different languages, and providing culturally specific sources of healing and resilience. The relational environment should be caring, respectful, empowering, transparent, employ people with lived experience, and foster community.

See this resource to learn more: Tools for Transformation: Becoming Accessible, Culturally Responsive, and Trauma-Informed Organizations—An Organizational Reflection Toolkit

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