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Trauma is Everywhere and Nowhere

Why glossing over or ignoring trauma is dangerous

Informed acceptance of the huge impact of trauma in the clinical world requires a massive paradigm shift. Trauma is both everywhere and nowhere at the same time because it is often unseen. While we see a problem, too many try to address symptoms, rather than accept trauma is far more widespread. Dr. Karen Treisman likened it to,

“seeing a flower not bloom and trying to fix the flower, when we need to change the environment in which we are trying to make it grow.”

Trauma is the 90% of the iceberg below the water’s surface. We cannot see it. Yet it is everywhere and requires a massive shift in our treatment acceptance and approaches to handle it. Trauma is a silent epidemic, yet what most see, are many symptoms. The system does not reward one for digging deeper to find signs of trauma. Most of the focus, is on the 10% of the iceberg above the surface we can see.

The problem is massive and growing globally. We have difficulty accepting that a vast number of people are traumatized. Because it is not visible or easily discovered, most cannot see the impact of their patient’s stressful life or formative childhood experiences. And, because it is largely unseen without digging deeper, there are not as many financial benefits, political or government drivers. There is no photo opportunity for an MP or local councillor, when you deal with issues hidden deeply that take time and effort to cure.

To many, it is just too big. So, we instead are told to focus on what is tangible and visible, to the detriment of the child or adult. Dealing with trauma, requires massive amounts of effort and transformation. People, on all sides, find it hard to deal with change. Yet many are using techniques and tools to dig deeper and solve the broader issues.

We need to celebrate those doing this well – the ‘sparkle’ places. Those local authorities, social services, schools, GPs, and others working extraordinarily hard to heal. We have a big problem. We are very far behind. Invisible trauma affects so many. And the lack of common sense around trauma treatment, is enormous. As clinical leaders we have to, like Gandhi said, “be the change in the world we want to see.” We must never lose hope and celebrate the sparkle places. This is why we need to move on trauma at a much deeper and faster pace. We understand the depth of struggle here. Much like the women’s suffrage movement or those fighting racial discrimination, this is a long-term fight and we must all drive this change.

Source: Being Trauma Informed - Conversations with IF

Dr. Renee P. Marks, Clinical Lead, Integrate Families

Dr. Karen Treisman, Clinical Psychologist, Safe Hands Thinking Minds

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