Katrina has a problem. She’s spent the last 10 years coping with a heroin addiction. She’s suffered from her addiction, from her bipolar disorder, and she’s been on and off the street a number of times, dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. However, her co-occurring substance use and mental health condition and her lack of stable housing are not her problem. Katrina is now sober, stable, and living on her own in a small apartment in Seattle. She’s on methadone to control her addiction and she’s receiving the care and medication needed to manage her disorder. Katrina’s problem is that for the first time in 10 years, she isn’t an addict. Now Katrina has to figure out how to deal with her trauma and turn a new leaf. Luckily, Katrina is not alone. Therapeutic Health Services (THS) is here for her, and with their Trauma-Informed Care model, they can ensure Katrina can turn that new leaf.

Katrina’s story is individual but it isn’t unique. Hundreds of patients are served each day at THS, many of which face the same challenges as Katrina. Each day our counselors are helping patients move past their respective traumas, an effort which is guided by evidence based care that is trauma-informed.

Trauma Informed Care makes safety the chief focus in working with a patient. As Lindsey Arrasmith, CDP puts it:

Trauma Informed Care is acknowledging that you’ve been through…some stuff. We can begin to separate you from that trauma, from that stuff, in a way that does not bring you down, that does not weigh you down, that does not prevent you from living your life. It empowers you to go achieve your dreams.”

 Lindsey helped lead the effort to adopt Trauma Informed Care (TIC) throughout THS. She was taught about TIC at a previous position where she learned “Seeking Safety” ‑ the modality of care now used by all THS staff. “Seeking Safety” is an evidence-based practice developed by Lisa M. Najavits, PhD at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital.  “Seeking Safety” teaches providers to work with clients to develop safety in all parts of their lives; relationships, behavior, emotions, and thinking. The modality can be used anywhere, by anyone, for anyone to help those in need to work through trauma and addiction problems.

Lindsey was deeply moved by her “Seeking Safety” trainings and as she incorporated it into her work, she was touched by how much it helped her serve patients. Working with a patient means going through their trauma with them and providers work hard to ensure this process is safe for their patients.  “I think as clinicians we have this fear, especially in the beginning, of ‘What if I hurt someone?’ Having ‘Seeking Safety’ as a foundation, is a safety net” Lindsey said when asked how the modality works in her practice.

Care isn’t a cure, it’s a process. A person in care has to go through many challenges in treatment. Trauma-Informed Care and “Seeking Safety” helps guide care to ensure patients can recover and move toward leading better lives. Therapeutic Health Services trauma-informed care policy recognizes that “survivors need to be respected, informed, connected and hopeful regarding their own recovery.” Under the guidance of this new policy, all staff at THS are working together to create safe environments where patients are empowered to reach their own goals and make full recoveries.