Written by: Veenu Aulakh

This week we kicked off our first trauma-informed care training through our Resilient Beginnings Collaborative. In this effort, the participating organizations are training all staff — from janitors to CEOs — in the principles of this approach that involves recognizing and responding to the effects of all types of trauma.

I attended the first training at Ravenswood Family Health Center in East Palo Alto, one of our seven participating sites supported by Genentech Charitable Giving, with additional support from the Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund. It was exciting to see one of our partner clinics begin their journey to develop a culture and systems to deliver a trauma-informed care experience to their patients.

One important lesson we have learned in this work is that it is critical to create a shared understanding and language about adversity, stress, trauma, and resilience across an organization. If we are to move our own organizations to be a place of healing and support for our patients, we have to start by building this for ourselves in our organizations.

Through this training, we started shifting our perspective. Instead of blaming people for “acting out” or doing something wrong, we start thinking about what is happening with a person or what has happened to them in the past. Similarly, though trauma-informed care, we stop criticizing organizations for not working and start empathizing with our colleagues.

We must realize and recognize the widespread impact of trauma and start acknowledging the symptoms in our patients, families, and staff. At the same time, we must learn how to respond to trauma in a way that does not retraumatize.

It has been exciting to see our health center partners creating the time, dedicating personnel, and prioritizing how stress and trauma affects us from a young age. And even more exciting is all the work we can do to help empower survivors.

These issues are not easy to address, as they require us to think about how trauma impacts us at an individual level, an organizational level, and a community level.

Our training partner, Trauma Transformed, is doing a heroic job in leading multiple trainings per organization in this initiative. They have already trained more 10,000 people in these principles across the Bay Area and have such deep expertise in this field.

If you want to learn more about this critical topic…

I’m inspired by the commitment of our clinic partners to deeply engage in this work. And I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish in two years to help build trauma-informed organizations, then create the systems to support building resilience and addressing adversity.

I would love to hear about your own work or organizations work in building trauma-informed care. Do you know of exciting initiatives, resources, or exemplar organizations?

Get updates from Veenu Aulakh. In her biweekly newsletter, Veenu shares stories of health care transformation and how to provide the best care for underserved communities. Join the conversation!