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For Spectrum Health Systems, Treating Addiction Often Means Treating Trauma Too

For many of our clients, addiction is usually not an isolated problem. Many also experience mental health issues and the after-effects of physical and mental trauma. The Trauma-Informed Care Program, which we introduced last year, is designed to build understanding amongst our staff and enhance their ability to effectively interact with clients who have suffered from trauma in the past.

The program was initiated by the Massachusetts Department of Correction in collaboration with Spectrum Health Systems and is now a part of Spectrum’s Educational Institute.

When Spectrum’s Trauma-Informed Care Committee set out to take over the program from the DOC, they had five goals in mind:

  1. Educate all staff in recognizing trauma and trauma-related symptoms in order to respond appropriately.
  2. Ensure staff is aware of the impact of trauma in the population we serve in order to be effective in minimizing re-traumatization.
  3. Adopt a “do no harm” approach that is sensitive to how institutions may inadvertently reawaken traumatic events.
  4. Assess our environments of care to minimize trauma triggers wherever possible.
  5. Continue to advance our clinical knowledge and service delivery system to ensure that we meet the specialized needs of trauma-impacted individuals.

The SAMHSA Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach states: “A program, organization, or system that is trauma-informed realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery; recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff and others involved with the system; and responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma…and seeks to actively resist re-traumatization.”

Our Introductory Trauma-Informed Care Practices Certificate Program is designed to train clinicians to use a trauma-informed approach in all client interactions, regardless of the employee’s job functions. All our staff learns about the impact of trauma and helpful approaches in managing predictable and unpredictable situations.

Seminars for the Introductory Program include:

  • Trauma-Informed Care
  • TIC: From Principles to Practice
  • Trauma-Informed Crisis Intervention

Subsequently, all clinical graduates of the Introductory Trauma-Informed Care Practices Certificate Program can take further courses to complete the Comprehensive Trauma-Informed Care Practices Certificate Program. The Comprehensive Program offers additional continuing education credits (CEUs) and provides staff with opportunities to practice and expand their tool boxes for successfully working with clients impacted by trauma.

Seminars for the Comprehensive Program include:

  • Healing Trauma with Mindfulness Practices
  • Teaching Grounding to Clients
  • Trauma-Informed Supervision

Both programs are offered to Spectrum’s full-time employees free-of-charge. Seminars occur over the course of six to twelve months at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

As we continue to seek talented clinicians for our programs, bringing this training in-house is a commitment to our staff and to our clients. Understanding the impact of trauma and learning helpful approaches in managing predictable and unpredictable situations, ensures a safe and healing recovery environment for all. Check out Spectrum’s open careers on the website.

If you or a loved one needs help, call us today at (800) 464-9555 for outpatient services or (800) 366-7732 for inpatient treatment.

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