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Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

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Disadvantages to trauma-informed care

Hello All,

I recently asked about finding more information on trauma-informed care and the amount of responses I received were a tremendous help!

I am also interested in any information on disadvantages of trauma-informed care, or personal opinions as to why another philosophy of practice may be better.

Any and all information is greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Nicole West

Nicole my only comment would be that at times we can tend to bring in a new possibility and make it THE way to work. I would consider trauma informed practice simply another aspect of the lens you bring to your practice. For me I consistently journey with a lens that is shaped by such things as trauma informed care, feminist theory, multi-culturalism and strength based practice.



Dear Nicole,

You want to hear some opposition to the 'trauma informed' brigade. Well, here's a few random thoughts for your consideration:

Trauma may be the latest fad but it's hardly a new idea. Even Freud agreed with Otto Rank that most adult psychoses could be traced back to the trauma of birth.

As a concept, trauma is a relative term not a diagnosable and treatable entity. We've all experienced trauma at one time or another – it's a matter of degree

Identifying trauma as a disorder is a product of the medical model and, for me, the antithesis of the relational model of Child and Youth Care. In this context, the relationship is more about identifying and treating the disorder than coming to know the child. If you don't believe me, just wait to see how many sub-categories of trauma are listed in the next version of the DSM – along with the 'appropriate' treatment protocols and, of course the prescribed medication.

A traumatic experience may trouble the brain but the effects are embedded and held in the body. In other words the issue is more somatic than neurological. To release the developmental interruption of 'trauma' both need to be addressed. In many cases the traumatized person can be taught to 'breathe' through the holding block. In more severe cases, additional somatic interventions are called for.

As a long time advocate for Child and Youth Care, my overriding concern is that, in our search for professional status, we have aligned ourselves with the established "experts" in the mental health field. There is considerable evidence to suggest that many of their practices are now creating the very problems they claim to ameliorate (read Robert Whitaker's book ‘Anatomy of an Epidemic’). Labelling, diagnosing and classifying specific disorders objectifies the 'victim' and, for me, this takes us away from what all kids need most – to be seen, heard and understood for who they really are by a caring adult. In creating relationships we may well find ourselves dealing with past traumatic experiences but to make this the centre of our practice is simplistic, misdirected and potentially damaging. By comparison, creating an open and trusting relationship with a child is complex, demanding and healing. Using a relationship to search for and treat the trauma simply makes no sense. For me, the "trauma-informed" is just another useless label.

Gerry Fewster

Fewster's note on trauma might be the best thing I have read in Child and Youth Care in the past five years.

Bill Carty

If I may add: I work primarily with individuals with developmental disabilities. I've seen some clinicians come back from a trauma informed training and say things about a client like 'if only he/she didn't have XYZ happen before'. No, he/she was born with his/her developmental disability. The individual is happy, they make friends, they have some self care skills. When these clinicians having a trauma focus they seem to (without knowledge) assign blame to the family/parent for the child having a developmental disability and (within their practice) create an idea that they can change the individual to become "neuro-typical".


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