The Importance Of Having The Appropriate Training When Working With Trauma

When it comes to working with a client with trauma it’s imperative to have a thorough understanding of trauma.

Trauma is currently a very hot topic. Everyone is talking about their own trauma, how to heal other people’s trauma and the training required to work with trauma.

At IICT, we have observed a significant number of practitioners and training providers who claim they work with trauma, heal trauma or are trauma informed. At times, this is not always the case. We are witnessing a rise in practitioners operating outside of their scope of practice and engaging in misleading advertising activities. Such behaviour not only increases the risk of legal claims against practitioners but also poses a risk of creating more trauma in the client.

As a leader and regulator in the complementary therapy industry, IICT shares a responsibility to ensure the integrity of IICT-approved practitioners and training providers. By working with industry leaders, clinicians, insurance partners and our specialist research team, we have developed the IICT guidelines for trauma.


What is trauma?

The Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Centre define trauma:

Trauma is a pervasive problem. It results from exposure to an incident or series of events that are emotionally disturbing or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, and/or spiritual well-being.

A simple way to describe trauma is any experience or experiences that negatively impact an individual’s capacity to live their life from that point forward.

When it comes to working with a client with trauma it’s imperative to have a thorough understanding of trauma, which includes the way it can present and how to work with it as it comes to the surface. IICT have defined three groups for practitioners working with trauma:

  • Trauma-trained: being qualified to work with people who have experienced trauma and support them to work through this to minimise the negative effects it has on their lives
  • Trauma-informed: being informed about how to engage with people who have experienced trauma, how to support them and how to refer them on
  • Practitioners who are unqualified to work with trauma

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What does it take to be ‘trauma-trained’?

Trauma-trained means that you have taken a formal training or qualification that enables you to support clients to safely work through their trauma. This could be a psychology or counselling degree, social worker, mental health worker or a similar field.

These practitioners have extensive knowledge of trauma and have studied for a minimum of one year in a trauma-related field. These practitioners will have also completed placement in a trauma-informed organisation or have undertaken many hours of clinical supervision.

Although they may have completed extensive training, it is up to the individual practitioner to have a solid understanding of their capabilities and boundaries when it comes to working with people who have experienced trauma.

It is crucial for the practitioner’s integrity and the safety of both the practitioner and the client that the practitioner feels competent to address the issues arising for the client. IICT strongly advise establishing pre-existing referral pathways to facilitate the appropriate support.

For example, a practitioner who has completed a three-year Bachelor of Counselling may not feel skilled or equipped enough to work with a victim of sexual assault. However, they may feel confident working with someone who has experienced neglect.

Another practitioner may have a history of working in community services, have lived experience in trauma and have completed a one-year Diploma in Counselling. They may feel confident in working with a victim of sexual assault.

Is it recommended that practitioners working in trauma-related industries have their own clinical supervisor who can help them work through any issues that arise from this work. They must have quality guidance and support in their practice.

At IICT, we define a person who has one or more years of full-time study in a field such as psychology, counselling degree, social work, mental health or similar to be trauma trained.


What does it mean to be 'trauma-informed’?

Being a trauma-informed practitioner means that you have a base level of trauma training, you understand what trauma is, what the key principles of trauma-informed care are and how to apply these to your practice.

You know how to safely respond when trauma arises and when to refer a client to a trauma-trained professional. You also know the limitations of your training and your scope of practice.

A trauma-informed practitioner understands that it is not their role to help heal or support someone to work through their trauma as doing so may be harmful to the client and the practitioner. It can also lead to legal claims.

At IICT, to be considered trauma-informed, you will need to complete trauma-specific training either within or outside of your practitioner course.

To find out more, get in touch with IICT today.



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