Trauma Informed World is a space to share 20 years of experience in Psychology with you. This includes my own lived experience of Psychosis to inspire recovery. The most important thing I want to share is a trauma informed framework to turn into a mindset for personal, social and political change. #HealingTrauma
The short pieces here highlight the difference between traditional Psychiatry and Trauma Informed Care. There has been a shift from endless division and pathology to a strength based mindset focusing on danger vs safety, reality vs imagination, helpful vs harmful; recognising we all belong. #YouBelong
While it will always be necessary to have a categorical (i.e. depression vs anxiety) and continuum lens (i.e. we are all along a continuum and there is room to move), the pieces here help bridge the gap between Psychology and Wisdom Traditions, notions of sanity and insanity, professional and patient, injustice and trauma and oppressor and oppressed:
A common humanity (i.e. reality) is essential for personal, social and political change (i.e. world peace).
One piece introduces five world views – Free Will (i.e. you are weak willed), Religion (i.e. you are a sinner), the Law (i.e. you are a criminal), the Disease Model (i.e. you are powerless with a disease) and Neuroplasticity (i.e. you are a changing human being in becoming).
Neuroplasticity led to Trauma Informed Care (i.e. safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment), which led to the Power Threat Meaning Framework (i.e. while each injustice differs, all stories share the same trauma: the negative operation of power; a call for social and political change). What makes Neuroplasticity trauma informed?
“Love is the absence of judgment.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama
The purpose of Trauma Informed World is to highlight despite our best efforts, most of our current systems (i.e. families, education, employment, criminal justice system, immigration system, government, religious institutions, etc) are still largely traumatising (i.e. silence or judgement, blame, punishment, shame and stigma).
The good news is this is easier to change than we were once taught. Throughout history, the vast majority of people did the best they could with the knowledge they had. Today, neuroscience and wisdom traditions converge. So this is our turn to step up and step in. This requires being trauma informed.
Suicide is #1 death for young Australians. Violence is #1 death and disability for young Australian women. We have an explosion of mental illness, addiction, pandemic, climate crisis and a plethora of human rights abuses while the gap between the rich and the poor widens.
When we consider five world views it is easy to see how we got here. Judging others as “weak willed”, a “sinner”, a “criminal”, “powerless” with a disease, makes it easier for us to let many fall through the cracks and carry on living a life of privilege. Perhaps this is why apathy persists.
A person who is trauma informed does not see someone as weak willed, a sinner, a criminal, or powerless with a disease. They see a human being in a situation that is dangerous vs safe, grounded in reality vs imagination and beliefs and behaviours that are helpful vs harmful.
A trauma informed person does not wish to silence or judge, blame, punish, shame, or stigmatise. They do not require endless division and pathology. The focus is to get the person safe, with clarity, grounded in reality with a variety of choices more helpful than harmful.
This requires drawing on life’s protectors for survival and wellbeing: body, mind, social connection, culture, country and spirituality. This fundamentally requires human rights. See how this is already a trauma informed framework to turn into a mindset for personal, social and political change.
Other trauma informed mindsets are:
Threat System (i.e. fight, flight, freeze, collapse) vs Social Engagement System, or what I like to call the Peace System (i.e. peace, joy, love, compassion, blissfulness, ecstasy).
Intimacy (i.e. safety, stillness, low arousal, flip side of freeze) and Play (i.e. safety, movement, high arousal, flip side of fight/flight).
Window of Tolerance (i.e. I am safe enough and okay enough vs too much or not enough).
Self-Esteem (i.e. the need to be “special and above average”; more/less, never enough; competition via a “Survival of the Fittest” mindset leaving others behind to die) vs Self-Compassion (i.e. kindness, common humanity, mindfulness; you are enough; collaboration via “Enlightenment” #YouBelong).
Even just these trauma informed mindsets would bring immense personal, social and political change (i.e. world peace). Remember, the majority of us were never taught this at home or school. So while world peace sounds fanciful, aren’t we at least going to have a shot?
Personal peace on the other hand is within our reach. The byproduct of clarity is peace. Joy is peace dancing (i.e. a higher intensity of arousal). Trauma is disconnection. Empathy fuels connection. Love is the absence of judgment (i.e. Mindfulness: nonjudgmental acceptance of the present with openness and curiosity). Humanity fuels life. Life is vulnerability.
Trauma Informed Care works because it is about survival – in this reality – and wellbeing, which comes naturally once our needs are met and we drop harmful beliefs that fuel division and conflict, keeping us “stuck” in intergenerational trauma. Children and animals have the healthiest emotional systems on the planet. Us adults got “stuck” in harmful beliefs and look how that’s turned out.
This is not a one person job. It takes a village to raise a child. Trauma Informed Care goes beneath our name, age, gender, skin colour, privilege, culture, religion, government, nationhood: All humans need safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment. We can all keep our names, but they must be understood as secondary.
Life is primary.
Life connects to life. And yet modern civilisation has drifted so far from what life needs. One reason is because we have forgotten the basics or they were never introduced to us in the first place. Trauma Informed Care returns to the basics:
I am optimistic. I see this done every day. I do it myself. I share my lived experience so that you can see, yes, I must do this too. I believe once this trauma informed framework becomes a mindset the system will naturally reform to science and compassion. It will also converge with First Nations cultures.
Many systems already do this and the results are remarkable. Three things holding Australia back are our ignorance, arrogance and the negative operation of power. These are obstacles to trauma informed change. Thankfully society is changing one person at a time. My wish is to help you get here. Remember, life is “here” not there.
Throughout history, key systems – Yoga, Martial Arts, Ceremonial Dance – stood the test of time. Why? They connect life to life. They are beautiful examples that any practice of life can be used to heal trauma. The trauma informed person comes to appreciate the value of all life even if we can never fully grasp its complexities. I hope you enjoy this space.
Now you know the power of Trauma Informed Care. Let’s turn this framework into a mindset for personal, social and political change. If you are unable to, you might need help first, to get safe or become ‘unstuck’ from trauma. Reach out for trauma informed care. #YouBelong
Dr Louise Hansen
PhD in Psychology
Human Rights Activist
#HealingTrauma #Justice4Australia #YouBelong
Trauma Informed World was inspired by Kopika and Tharnicaa; two faces that remind us everyday of Australia’s cruel refugee system. One of many systems in Australia that remind us of the negative operation of power. #HomeToBilo
You can listen my talk with Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, the President of Blue Knot Foundation on my own healing journey, training and study and how it has informed my work and advocacy for a trauma informed world here:
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