Interning with AS – Trauma-Informed Care
By Natasha Pelayo
Hi, everyone! I’m Natasha, and I’m a senior Master of Public Health student at Concordia University Texas and Austin Smiles intern. During my time at Austin Smiles, I’ve gotten the opportunity to observe and learn about so many important areas of public health, and one area that I’ve really gotten to explore has been trauma-informed care. Trauma-informed care means that an agency understands that in order to ensure that the best possible care is given to patients, we recognize the potential presence of trauma and its impacts and effects on patients’ development and daily life functioning while we actively avoid re-traumatization.
When it comes to trauma, it’s important to acknowledge that traumatic experiences and symptoms differ from person to person, and being a trauma-informed agency recognizes the importance of understanding, respecting, and honoring the unique experiences of each individual. Trauma-informed care also provides a safe and supportive space for patients, their families, and caregivers, where everyone feels comfortable, understood, and accepted, and every interaction fosters trustworthy relationships that further healing and recovery.
Overall, becoming a trauma-informed agency allows us to provide care that is sensitive and understanding of the potential traumatic effects that patients have experienced. Trauma impacts and affects us in so many ways, and it’s important that the care we deliver takes this into account and encourages recovery from those traumatic experiences. Trauma-informed care requires an understanding of the possibility that trauma of some kind could have occurred in an individual’s past; with this in mind, trauma-informed caregivers remain watchful and ready to adjust their care delivery when needed. The patient is at the center of everything, and we always remember that we each have an important role to play in being trauma-informed.
Having seen firsthand what goes on behind the scenes at Austin Smiles, I can say that everyone involved with the organization embodies what it means to be trauma-informed. The genuine compassion, care, and concern for the well-being of patients and their families and the building and maintaining of relationships have been an honor to witness. I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from everyone at Austin Smiles this semester and to have had a behind-the-scenes look at the amazing work that this organization does. I’ve learned so much about what it means to be a trauma-informed agency that truly places patients at the center of everything.
Natasha Pelayo, Global Public Health Intern Fall 2021
Concordia University – Masters in Public Health