Practically Speaking: Behind the Episode “What Happened To You? Trauma-informed Care and Creating Healing Environments”

Practically Speaking: Behind the Episode “What Happened To You? Trauma-informed Care and Creating Healing Environments”

Dr. Kevin Holloway

Back in June of 2023, I attended the Psych Congress Elevate conference. I haven’t attended this conference in the past, but the topics and speakers looked interesting, and I needed some CEs. Plus, it was in Las Vegas, so extra bonus! I soon found that while psychologists were certainly welcomed and encouraged to attend, most of the presentations focused on pharmacological interventions for mental health issues. Fair enough, as I very much respect the important role pharmacology and prescribers play in addressing these conditions. Even though I felt like I was crashing someone else’s party, I value learning new things, especially if it helps me explain or present ideas to my clients that can be beneficial, even if I would not be the one prescribing or managing their medications.

Click here to listen to the episode! “What Happened To You? Trauma-informed Care and Creating Healing Environments”

Of the many facets of my identity, I consider myself a trauma therapist. I teach workshops about PTSD assessment and Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy for PTSD as well as provide consultation for PE. So I am especially interested in presentations regarding trauma. One presentation in particular drew my attention, it focused on on trauma-informed care, and how it is different from trauma-specific treatment, presented by Lydia Bartholow, our podcast guest this week. I thought I knew what this topic was about (being a trauma therapist), but realized quickly that I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought. My focus has been on assessing and treating PTSD for most of my career, and so I figured I was pretty “trauma-informed.” However, I learned that trauma-informed care is much more broad, and can be applied in a plethora of situations, most not directly related to trauma care at all.

Trauma-informed care is an approach to healthcare and social services that recognizes and responds to the widespread impact of trauma on individuals. It is a paradigm shift that emphasizes creating an environment that promotes safety, trust, and collaboration, acknowledging the potential for trauma to affect physical and mental well-being. Central to trauma-informed care is the understanding that trauma can manifest in various forms, including interpersonal violence, abuse, neglect, or significant life events such as natural disasters. Providers practicing trauma-informed care aim to create a culture of sensitivity, empathy, and awareness, ensuring that individuals feel respected and supported throughout their healing journey.

One key principle of trauma-informed care is the realization of the prevalence of trauma and its potential long-term consequences. Rather than focusing solely on symptoms or behaviors, this approach encourages healthcare providers to inquire about and consider the underlying trauma that may contribute to an individual's challenges. By adopting a holistic perspective, professionals can tailor their interventions to address the root causes of distress, fostering a more comprehensive and effective healing process.

Creating a trauma-informed care environment involves integrating trauma-sensitive practices at all levels of an organization. This includes training staff to recognize signs of trauma, adopting trauma-informed language, and implementing policies that prioritize safety and empowerment. By emphasizing collaboration and choice, trauma-informed care seeks to restore a sense of agency to individuals who have experienced trauma, allowing them to actively participate in decisions about their care. In essence, trauma-informed care is not just a set of procedures; it is a cultural shift that fosters an atmosphere of compassion, understanding, and resilience in the face of adversity.

At the end of her presentation, I felt strongly that this topic is very relevant to our Practical for Your Practice listeners, and so immediately approached Lydia and asked her to join us on the podcast. She graciously agreed, and we invite you to listen to the episode at Like all episodes this season, Lydia shares with us her “Confessions.”

If you have a question or topic you want to suggest for a future episode, feel free to drop us a voice-mail message at

Click here to listen to the episode! “What Happened To You? Trauma-informed Care and Creating Healing Environments”

The opinions in CDP Staff Perspective blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science or the Department of Defense.

Kevin Holloway, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist working as Director of Online Training, Technology and Telehealth at the Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.