Pacific Solstice proudly offers trauma-informed care to all of its patients. Trauma-informed care is a paradigm in which patients receive services, framed and grounded in the understanding of the impacts of trauma that affect our physical, psychological, and emotional well-being.
Trauma is a commonly discussed issue today, as many people have faced various abuses, injustices, or significant negative experiences. Untreated trauma can greatly impact our relationships with ourselves and others - leading to more strife, isolation, hopelessness, and self-victimization. There’s no doubt that trauma must be addressed; however, it must be handled carefully, strategically, and with layered interventions… Because diving into traumatic experiences (even with a seasoned therapist) can re-introduce more trauma if no addressed properly. So how does someone go about this the right way?
We approach our care in a trauma-informed manner, starting with basic building blocks to regain emotional stability.
There are three pillars encompassed in trauma-informed care. The first pillar is safety.
Why is safety so important?
One of the first violations from someone who has experienced trauma is a violation of trust. Someone who has PTSD struggles to ever feel truly safe.
But how do we Define safety in the clinical environment?
Pacific solstice seeks to provide safety by providing a calm environment, consistency, availability, honesty, predictability via scheduling and communication, and unconditional positive regard for our patients. Safety is enforced in various ways in our clinic - through boundaries, limits, and clear expectations from our milieu. The safety measures that we put in place may not feel safe to patients at first, because they can be new, uncomfortable, and may even feel annoying. But over time, we see the structure and routine (a form of safety) provided for our patients facilitate stability rather quickly. It’s uncomfortable, but healing.
The second pillar in trauma-informed care is healthy connections.
What do healthy connections mean in the context of Pacific Solstice’s Clinic?
We facilitate healthy connections via peer support in group therapy, family care for patients, rallying in the support system, and maintaining professionalism with our patients. Healthy connections are important because we have lost touch with how to create and maintain relationships, even through simple things like eye contact, a handshake, or receiving compliments from others. We are designed for relationships. When we've experienced trauma we have a hard time connecting with ourselves and with others. Those relationships become fractured and distanced. Establishing healthy connections is a priority when under our care, because it sets the stage for learning to manage stress despite past traumatic experiences.
The third pillar in trauma-informed care is managing emotional impulses.
The theme in patients requiring higher levels of psychiatric care is that there is poor resilience to stress, and everything feels like an emergency. Nothing feel safe or secure. Thus, whenever any type of stress occurs (whether large or small) everything feels urgent, terrifying, and overwhelming….leading to irrational or impulsive behaviors. When we come from a place of impulsivity, we easily make mistakes, say things we don’t mean, put ourselves in harm’s way, or ven introduce more trauma and shame. Learning how to self-regulate is imperative for anyone with a history of trauma.
How do we assist with managing emotional impulses?
Our clinicians intervene by providing basic coping skills, providing grounding and self-awareness tools and allowing for opportunities to practice self-regulation (especially in group and individual sessions). We as staff also prioritize modeling calm and warm demeanors for our patients, to help mirror the appropriate emotional response.
We cannot underestimate the value of coping skills. These skills are practical tools that we can use when we are undergoing any significant or overwhelming emotion. Example emotions may include panic, anxiety, anger, fear, feeling overwhelmed, impulsive thoughts, irritability, restlessness, hypervigilance, etc. If we don't have a list of our top 5+ coping skills during acute stress, trauma therapy will only become destructive. Trauma therapy is inevitably going to bring up overwhelming emotions as a part of the healing process. If we don't have proper coping skills then we won't be able to address these issues appropriately, and we can worsen our psychological state.
Pain is a part of life, but you don’t have to avoid it or fear it. You can learn how to safely manage pain and everything that comes along with it. We welcome your presence at Pacific Solstice to learn, build, and maintain skills so that you may grow from your shame and hurt and find healing.