The Environment Around Trauma

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I was questioned recently about the idea that if all the staff in an organization were trauma-informed and knowledgeable, would that change the organizational culture?  I quickly answered, “not if the staff is not safe!” Time and time again I have spoken with professionals who have worked with trauma-impacted individuals. In our discussions they have been opened to say that the environment they are working for was not safe, appropriate or intentional for the work that they do.

I use the image of a wilted flower as a visual for how we handle trauma in any sphere that we see it. If we are shown a picture of a wilted flower and ask what happened, we would naturally suggest that there was not enough or too much water, that maybe the sun wilted the flower or that there was something wrong with the soil. We probably would not look at the flower and try to blame it for its lack of nutrition or abuse. Although humans are a bit different because of some of their own potential and volition to recover, the analogy still holds. We need to create environments where human beings feel safe, nurtured, supported and given the relational and emotional nutrition that will give them the ability to flourish and create wholeness in their lives and in the lives of those they touch each and every day.

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Particularly as we are now in a post-COVID world, one of the realizations that has become glaringly apparent is how much we are struggling. Our systems of care have struggled with limited resources and intense and high stress. Now more than ever we need to educate our key leaders, board of directors and staff about how a trauma-informed and trauma-responsive environment would look and function in its practices, policies and implementation of programs.

We need to be able to trust our leaders to provide support and care for their staff in order for staff to be able to support each other as they deal with individuals who have been impacted by trauma.

A clinical approach to trauma intervention alone without changing the environment in which it occurs is not a holistic approach to helping our organizations and those they serve. We must create alignment around the organizational principles of trauma in order to create an environment where we can thrive, be aligned, build healthy relationships and embody trauma-informed care.

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That is why Lakeside works so diligently to provide training for schools, professionals and organizations to not only have knowledge about the impact of trauma but to implement changes that will align organizations around the best of ideals in trauma-informed care. 

Specifically we provide an organizational model for trauma-responsive care through Dr. Sandra Bloom’s Creating PRESENCE model that is gaining acceptance in many areas in the country. For more information, please go to the Creating PRESENCE website at  It will be essential to those who provide care for our trauma-impacted individuals throughout our communities.

Gerry Vassar


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