August 18, 2020

From Stephanie Sundborg, PhD, Director of Research and Evaluation, Trauma Informed Oregon
With this month’s newsletter highlighting the importance of empowerment, voice, and choice, I thought it was a good time to share the data we’ve been collecting during our community forums. We hold a number of forums each year around the state to share information about trauma informed care (TIC) and to learn from you. To hear your interests, concerns, successes—to hear your voice.

During this past year, we asked the same questions when we visited, what does TIC look like? How would you know if your organization was trauma informed? What would you notice? What would it look like if staff were trauma informed? How would they act? What would they do? And finally, what would it look like when your organization’s leaders model and embody TIC? How would you know?

We’ve talked with many people and collected many ideas and thoughts—too many for just one blog. I am going to share this data will all of you in the upcoming newsletters. For now, I’m going to start with leadership. It is said that having leaders on board and committed to TIC is an essential ingredient for successful TIC implementation. Leadership buy-in not only helps launch a TIC effort but also helps sustain it. Leaders who model and embrace TIC also help create a trauma informed culture. They set the tone. They create the expectation.

In this blog, I present the feedback we heard about what trauma informed leaders look like. What they do. How they behave. The data is organized by TIC principles so that we can all use a similar framework for interpretation. As you will see, the most common principle (about ½ of the responses) pertains to physical and emotional safety, followed by empowerment/voice/choice, and then trust and transparency. The ideas and thoughts aren’t novel or surprising, but represent good practices for centering relationships and honoring individuals.