The term “trauma” carries significant weight, enough so that it can be misinterpreted as too extreme to describe most circumstances. People associate trauma with events like 9/11, the terror attacks in Boston and Paris, or the earthquake that devastated Nepal. Even though these events are traumatic and horrific on both a personal and national scale, the impact of other, more personal forms of trauma can transform communities and travel along the collective memory of generations.

Trauma, however, is more pervasive than previously understood. No matter how improbably big or seemingly arbitrary, studies are revealing that any event which causes a sense of shattered normalcy—creating feelings of hypervigilance and avoidance—constitutes a traumatic event. Experiences of a traumatic nature can affect behavior and, in turn, cause issues in relationships, including those at the workplace. While individuals experiencing trauma are working toward recovery and developing a long-term trauma response, the altered contexts in which they operate their everyday lives must be taken into account to facilitate overall resilience.

A shift in perspective is currently sweeping the behavioral health sector. Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) is an understanding that behavioral issues displayed by individuals are not necessarily a result of what is wrong with them, but rather reflect what has happened during their lives. TIC is redefining how to interact with disruptive behaviors by creating environments of safety, connection and management.

It remains imperative that those seeking to implement this change in perspective have a basic understanding of what trauma is.

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