How Trauma Informed is Your Organization?

Last September, we attended a webinar hosted by the Center for Social Innovation’s training center, t3.  The webinar, led by Dr. Rachel Latta, introduced a new tool (the TICOMETER) for assessing the degree to which an organization is trauma informed. Since this topic has significant relevance to agencies working with individuals and families experiencing homelessness, we asked Rachel to write a blog post on the TICOMETER. This is what she wrote.

Trauma is pervasive among adults and children in the U.S. A national study reported that almost 90% of respondents reported at least one traumatic event in their lifetime, with multiple exposures being the norm (1). Approximately 60% of children experience at least one trauma annually (2). Within systems serving low-income populations (e.g. child welfare and homelessness), traumatic stress may be nearly universal (3 4).

Given the high rates of trauma exposure in the general population, health and human service providers are increasingly recognizing the need to use a trauma-informed approach to service provision. Trauma-informed care has emerged as a . . .

“ . . . strengths-based framework grounded in an understanding of and responsiveness to the impact of trauma. It emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both practitioners and survivors, and creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment” (5).

Organizations and practitioners directly integrate their knowledge and understanding of trauma into everyday practice and promote their capacity to recognize and respond to the needs of trauma survivors. Trauma-informed care implies that recovery is possible for everyone, regardless of how vulnerable they may appear. Organizations seeking to implement trauma-informed care must consider how well they have integrated its principles by focusing on ongoing training priorities, relationship building, physical environment, service delivery, and policies and procedures at all levels of the organization (6).

As organizations move toward becoming more trauma informed, they need ways to measure and track their progress in implementing trauma-informed principles within their organization. Although process-oriented assessments exist, these assessments are time and resource intensive and are often impractical for busy, under-resourced health and human service agencies. Additionally, researchers looking to measure the effectiveness of trauma-informed trainings and implementation tools have not had access to empirically validated measures.

TICOMETERTo meet this growing need, the Center for Social Innovation and its training division, t3, developed the TICOMETER, a psychometrically validated measure for assessing the degree to which an organization is trauma informed and identifying gaps in implementation within an organization. The measure is 35 items, takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, and is administered online. The TICOMETER allows organizations to determine the nature and strength of trauma-informed care and practice across five domains:

  1.   Building trauma-informed knowledge and skills
  2.   Respecting service users
  3.   Promoting trauma-informed policies and procedures
  4.   Establishing trusting relationships
  5.   Fostering trauma-informed services

The analysis can be used at a single point in time or at set points throughout an organization’s efforts to implement trauma-informed care, provided that sufficient time has passed for improvement to take hold.  The TICOMETER offers organizations a tool to aid in moving toward ensuring trauma-informed service delivery. When organizations are able to integrate trauma-informed care, service users receive better care and have better health outcomes, staff burnout and turnover are reduced, and staff satisfaction is increased.

For more information about the TICOMETER and to purchase access, please visit: http://us.thinkt3.com/ticometer

View a free webinar on the TICOMETER at: http://info.thinkt3.com/webcast-ticometer-0

To contact t3 (think. teach. transform.) with questions, please email us at: info@think3.com or call us at 617.467.6014

rachel-latta-color2Blog Post Author: Rachel Latta, PhD has worked with low-income and homeless adults since 1999, with a focus on intimate partner violence (IPV). This experience guides her research, policy development, service development, clinical care, and training. Dr. Latta has served as a local and national trainer on trauma, trauma-informed care, and IPV. As an adjunct faculty, she has taught courses on gender, race, and counseling skills. She has worked in and directed grassroots organizations and mental health and substance abuse clinics, and she also founded and directed an outpatient clinic for veterans and their families dealing with IPV. Dr. Latta is a licensed psychologist in the state of Massachusetts. She had a previous career as an editor and still wields a red pen.

To contact Rachel directly, email her at rlatta@center4si.com.

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National Center Kicks Off Federal Government Networking Activities

This past December and January, the National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services held in-person networking meetings with representatives of multiple federal agencies to discuss opportunities to collaborate with government stakeholders in efforts to end homelessness. Building relationships with government agencies is a key component of the Center’s National Homelessness Social Work Initiative (NHSWI), supporting our work to impact the policymaking process and make social work the go-to profession for responding to homelessness. The intention of the meetings was to begin building a collaborative relationship between the National Center and federal agencies and groups with a vested interested in addressing homelessness.

As part of the NHSWI, a New York Trust funded initiative in its second year, the National Center has partnered with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to engage federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH).  CSWE offered invaluable help in the process of arranging and preparing for the in-person meetings.

Meetings were held with staff members from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), USICH, the Congressional Caucus on Homelessness, HUD, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Homeless Veterans Initiative Office. In addition to National Center staff from UAlbany and staff from CSWE, representatives from National Center partner schools also attended, including faculty from Hunter College, the Catholic University of America, the University of Maryland, California State University-Long Beach, and the University of Texas at Austin.

Meeting discussions were oriented around introductory conversations to introduce the government representatives to the work of the National Center, the goals of the NHSWI, and to learn about current federal activities and priorities. Topics discussed at the meetings included:

  • SAMHSA’s PATH (Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness) program and how the National Center might connect with the program’s network of homelessness providers across the U.S.;
  • The Housing First philosophy embraced by the VA and USICH, and how this aligns with research and policy suggestions set forth by NCEHS partners, including a recent book publication by faculty partners;
  • The VA’s efforts to continue the momentum created by the current administration to address veteran homelessness and opportunities for the National Center to support this work;
  • USICH’s Priority Communities Initiative, part of the Opening Doors strategic plan, and how the National Center might create linkages between our partner schools and government agencies within those communities; and
  • Opportunities to connect with the National Alliance to End Homelessness for future advocacy efforts.

These networking meetings are an exciting opportunity for the National Center to introduce its mission, its current projects, and its consortium of schools of social work to the key federal agencies working to end homelessness nationally. The National Center is taking necessary next steps to explore the multiple and varied recommendations that emerged from these meetings. One immediate development was the creation of a workgroup with members from the VA, National Center staff, and representatives from our partner schools. Capitalizing on the VA’s enthusiasm to further advance their work on veteran homelessness, the workgroup will meet monthly to discuss opportunities to collaborate and coordinate efforts.

Future blog posts will provide updates on additional activities as they emerge.

Blog Post Authors: Jeffrey Roberts (graduate student assistant) and Amanda Aykanian (Research and Project Lead)