We believe that healing and recovery from trauma and exploitation are possible for each man and woman, regardless of current vulnerability. We aim to instill hope by providing opportunities to work in a safe environment and to be involved at all levels of the business. We focus on an individual’s strengths and resilience, and we encourage them to articulate future goals.
Why is it important that we create trauma-informed workplaces
As Harvard Medical Professor Richard Mollica has observed, “Traumatized people of all ages and cultural backgrounds [are] extremely resilient when they [are] involved in work… For people threatened by violence, work becomes the anchor that holds them steady within their old world as a new one is being formed.”
The previous experiences of those employed may have included childhood abuse and neglect, separation from family members, violent relationships or witnessing domestic violence, or human trafficking. When survivors of such trauma are unable to provide for themselves or their families, it is difficult for them to engage in their healing journey.
This reality necessitates that we understand the following about trauma:
Given the far-reaching impact of trauma and the adaptations that individuals are forced to develop in order to survive, the path to healing requires responses and interventions not typically offered in a place of employment. Healing for trauma survivors is not advanced by offering “one size fits all” services. How a workplace responds to the individual needs of men, women, boys, and girls who have experienced trauma has a significant impact on their process of recovery.
We follow the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s concept of a trauma-informed approach, which is grounded in four assumptions and six key principles.
The four “R’s” about the Trauma-Informed Organization:
Realizes the widespread impact of trauma (how it can affect families, groups, organizations, and communities as well as individuals) and understands potential paths for recovery.
Recognizes signs and symptoms of trauma in employees, family members, and others involved with the organization.
Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices.
Seeks to actively resist retraumatization.
The six key principles of Trauma-Informed Care:
Ensure the physical and emotional safety of employees and the people served by the organization. Provide a safe physical setting. Establish a culture where interpersonal interactions promote a sense of safety.
Trustworthiness and Transparency
Conduct organizational operations and make decisions with transparency and with the goal of building and maintaining trust among employees and others involved with the organization. Continually build trust by making tasks clear and by maintaining appropriate boundaries. TMP addendum: Offer employee assistance services (in addition to, but separate from the support of supervisors) to help employees identify and resolve personal concerns that affect job performance.
Utilize stories and lived experiences to promote recovery and healing. (“Peers” refers to individuals with lived experiences of trauma.) Peer support and mutual self-help are key vehicles for establishing safety and hope, building trust, enhancing collaboration, serving as models of healing, and maximizing
Collaboration and Mutuality
Develop true partnerships (shared power and decision-making) across all levels of the business. Create community and recognize that healing happens in relationship. Safe, authentic and positive relationships can be corrective and restorative to survivors of trauma and exploitation.
Empowerment, Voice, and Choice
Help employees regain a sense of control over their daily lives. Recognize and build competencies that will strengthen their sense of autonomy. Provide opportunities for employees to make daily decisions and participate in the creation of personal goals. Maintain awareness and respect for basic human rights and freedoms.
Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues
Actively move past cultural stereotypes and biases, consider language and cultural considerations in providing support, offer gender-responsive services, leverage the healing value of traditional cultural and peer connections, and recognize and address historical trauma. Understand how cultural context influences one’s perception of and response to traumatic events and the recovery process. Respect diversity within the workplace.