David Earl Johnson, LICSW

3 minute read

Sandra Bloom, MD has written extensively about Trauma Informed Care for several decades and is founder of the Sanctuary Model (http://www.sanctuaryweb.com). In an article published in a blog post, (Bloom, S. L., 2015. The article was titled, “What if we could prevent MH problems”. Posted on http://www.realmhchange.org, August 20, 2015.), she called upon us to act.

“As a society, we have a moral responsibility to do something with the knowledge we now have that most of the suffering brought about in the world today is preventable.”

She says that the recently published Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study and many other major studies and analysis of the patterns, causes, and effects of health have created a paradigm shift, a fundamental change in how we look at the effects of trauma. ACEs include verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, household substance abuse, household mental illness, parental separation or divorce, and an incarcerated household member. Studies have found a strong relationship between ACEs and negative health and well-being outcomes throughout life.

Dr. Bloom concludes “there is now such an extensive body of knowledge, research, and evidence that we can no longer rightfully speak about this as ‘trauma theory’ because there is relatively little that remains theoretical about it. It is time for us to take a lifespan approach to all of our major problems with a focus on treatment, yes, but with a simultaneous focus on prevention. Now we can say with surety what it is we need to prevent. Put simply, the greater a person’s exposure to adverse experiences – and all traumatic experiences are considered to be forms of adversity – the greater is the person’s risk for health problems, a shorter lifespan, a wide variety of mental health disorders, involvement in the criminal justice system, substance abuse disorders, homelessness, and workplace difficulties.”

Those of us who have been in clinical practice for a while have been aware of the effects of childhood trauma on future adults. If each incident of adverse childhood experiences has a growing effect on the risk of aversive outcome, how do incidents of adversity in adulthood contribute? How about adversity that may not be considered traumatic as defined in the ACES study? It seems likely that this sub-traumatic stress would contribute to an overall negative outcome as well. People with stressful lives have significant impact on their overall health and wellness.

TIC Tip of the week Consider how your behavior every day may contribute to the stress and/or health of another. Warmth, genuineness and empathy is a good place to start.

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