Why is trauma informed care important?
Being trauma-informed means understanding how trauma affects a person and knowing how to respond to someone who has experienced it. This includes trauma that affects the people we support, our co-workers and managers, and ourselves.
People all experience and cope with trauma and stress differently. When people cope using wishful thinking, or hoping that things will get better without actually making an action plan, they can experience emotional exhaustion, compassion fatigue, burnout, and dissatisfaction in their work. According to research done in 2009 by Devereux, Hastings, Noone, Firth, & Totsika utilizing coping skills that are focused on solving a problem can lead to a sense of accomplishment in your work and help prevent burnout.
So what is problem-focused coping and how can we use it in our work? Using problem focused coping allows us to tackle the roots of stress head on. We can do this by identifying the thing that is causing us stress and taking control of the problem by using the following problem-solving steps:
- Identify the problem
- Make a list of possible solutions
- Chose the one you think is most likely to effetely solve the problem
- Try your first choice
- Evaluate your success and repeat the cycle if needed
An example of how this coping skill might work:
Lucy is feeling stressed at work. She is uninterested in things she used to like and can’t seem to focus on her tasks. She decides to use problem-focused coping and follows the problem-solving steps –
- Lucy identifies that the problem is that she is not getting along well with one of her co-workers. They are on each other’s nerves and haven’t been seeing eye-to-eye on the tasks that need to be completed.
- Lucy makes a list of possible solutions: ignore her co-worker, make passive aggressive comments about the tasks her co-worker isn’t doing, speak to her manager about her co-worker, try to build a better relationship with her co-worker by getting to know her better, and asking for a change to a new work location/department.
- Lucy decides that the solution she thinks will most likely work is to try and build a better relationship with her co-worker by getting to know her better.
- Lucy tries this out. She asks her co-worker what her favorite coffee is and picks one up on her way in the next day. She spends 5 minutes talking to her co-worker about her life outside of work and learns that they share a common hobby.
- After a week of working on her relationship with her co-worker Lucy evaluates her success and finds that she is no longer stressed about her relationship with her co-worker. Lucy feels a sense of accomplishment and is energized when she comes into work.
Using problem-focused coping is one strategy you can use to take care of yourself so that you can provide quality services to the people we support. You can also support those around you by helping to walk them through this strategy when they are experiencing stress.
Written by Jessica Wallace, Manager, Learning & Development at the Arc of Monroe.