Trauma is defined as an event that is out of the ordinary and experienced as life threatening, causing significant fear and distress, overwhelming the ability of te tamaiti to cope.
We recognise that tamariki in care have often experienced multiple and enduring trauma — termed 'complex trauma'. Complex trauma can impact across many aspects of wellbeing and development of te tamaiti.
Being 'trauma-informed' means understanding and recognising how trauma is experienced by te tamaiti, their whānau and caregivers in the following areas:
- Historically through colonisation in Aotearoa.
- Across families and generations.
- Within systems we are part of.
- Directly to individuals.
Many of the challenging and concerning behaviours we see in tamariki who engage with our services are their attempts to cope with trauma. Trauma-informed practice means:
- understanding and recognising the impacts of all forms of trauma
- working closely together in responding effectively
- preventing further trauma and providing the resources needed for healing.
Quality practice includes:
- asking "what happened to you?" rather than "what’s wrong with you?"
- looking beyond 'what’s on top' with the behaviours of te tamaiti, to understand underlying triggers or influences
- 'tuning in' and acknowledging the feelings of te tamaiti, and their responses to what has happened to them
- providing te tamaiti with reassurance and hope for change
- being calm, reliable and consistent
- taking notice of key relationships for te tamaiti and including them wherever possible
- working closely with others supporting the care of te tamaiti
- paying attention to any developmental needs for te tamaiti such as speech and language difficulties
- noticing resilience factors and setting goals to develop areas of interest and strengths for te tamaiti.
Reflecting on practice
- What do I know about any trauma experienced by te tamaiti and how it might be impacting on their day to day activities?
- What do I know about trauma that may have been experienced by their whānau and how might this knowledge influence my practice?
- How am I preventing further traumatisation of te tamaiti?
- How is my practice promoting feelings of safety and stability for te tamaiti? E.g. am I actively managing any changes or transitions they might experience?
- How am I fostering healing and resilience through my practice?