We often hear references to trauma-informed care without a clear idea of what that entails. Can you suggest a resource with a clear definition of trauma-informed care and how to implement it?

Provider agencies and peer support services talk about a trauma-informed approach to care, but it is not always clear what they are referring to. SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach introduces a a well designed concept of trauma and offers a framework for becoming a trauma informed organization, system, or service sector. SAMHSA approached the problem by integrating 3 distinct elements: trauma focused research work, practice-generated knowledge about trauma interventions, and lessons articulated by survivors who have had involvement in multiple service sectors.

The key questions addressed in the manual are:

  1. What do we mean by trauma?
  2. What do we mean by a trauma-informed approach?
  3. What are the key principles of a trauma-informed approach
  4. What is the suggested guidance for implementing a trauma-informed approach?
  5. How do we understand trauma in the context of community?

The manual provides a definition of trauma and a trauma-informed approach, and offers 6 key principles and 10 implementation domains.


This resource was selected by SMI Adviser content partners and approved by the SMI Adviser clinical expert team for inclusion in the knowledge base.

SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2014)


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