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Podcast: Trauma-Informed Social Work Practice: What Is It and Why Should We Care? – by Dr. Nancy Smyth – #SWSCmedia #SWweek Series #GASWSC #WSWDay #UNSWDay

Trauma-Informed Social Work Practice: What Is It and Why Should We Care?

Podcast by: Dr. Nancy Smyth  (@njsmyth) is Professor and Dean of School of Social Work at University at Buffalo and Associate Research Scientist at Research Institute on Addictions. She is also a member of @SWSCmedia Expert Panel. 

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4 thoughts on “Podcast: Trauma-Informed Social Work Practice: What Is It and Why Should We Care? – by Dr. Nancy Smyth – #SWSCmedia #SWweek Series #GASWSC #WSWDay #UNSWDay

  1. Dr. Nancy Smyth, your podcast was very informative and relative to much of my learning experiences right now that are centered around Trauma, Trama Informed Care (TIC), and Human Rights. Trauma is so broad, so complex and with so many layers! You yourself cited well explained definitions from the DSM-IV, Donald M., and McCannon P., which just goes to show exactly how intricate trauma really is. It’s important for me to note the different parts of trauma and it’s also refreshing to hear you speak about trauma in such a fashion because as a foundation year MSW student, this topic has come up alot within the year, its even been a debate in some courses as to what constitues as trauma and what doesn’t but most importantly, its been a struggle for me, my peers, and my professors to attempt concising trauma into a clear and succient definition for some time now, especially in my seminar class.

    The metaphor that you spoke of “Trauma Wall” by Michael Greenwald was something new to me, but I found it very interesting because that metaphor of understanding what happens when someone lives through things that are overwhelming was very helpful in that I too feel comfortable articulating it to clients as a metaphor they can understand especially the part about problems being reactions to sore spots that have been triggered.

    You also spoke about the 5 principles of trauma and you heavily elaborated on #2 trustworthiness; I feel that #5 empowerment is a great principal that merits elaboration as well because empowerment can be used to help invigorate and strengthen the client which usually leads to achieving problems/challenges that clients who’ve had traumatic experiences sometimes face. Empowerment being strengths, skills, and hope is also about helping clients understand that they can move past traumas and get on with their lives without constantly living in fear, anxiety, and vigilance.

    *A little off topic but something that stuck out to me while listening to your podcast was also part of your discussion around the principle of trustworthiness, when you stated that you have clients evaluate your behavior as far as you being trustworthy; I had to mention this because i think this is a great thing to do with any kind of approach but I especially see why its important to have your clients evaluate you in regards to TIC because many times they are no longer able to trust because of their traumatic experiences.

    Overall this podcast helped me understand how, as a social worker, TIC needs to be addressed not only on a micro and mezzo level but also on a macro level. I honestly never think about TIC on a macro level but in order to combat the traumatic events that takes place as a whole in this country there’s a need for more universal-macro level TIC interventions, especially after realizing that exposure to traumatic events occur in about 60% of the U.S. population; a citation from your blogpost, (Keller, 2000)…

    Again, I really enjoyed listening and it really got me thinking about how I can begin to address trauma on a larger, more global scale so thank you!

    Posted by Hope Tuck | April 3, 2012, 3:06 am
    • Thanks for such a thorough, thoughtful comment, Hope. You clearly listened very carefully. Your point about a macro-perspective is excellent. To be really effective, a trauma-informed approach must occur at all levels, micro, mezzo, and macro. Our policies can support or undermine trauma-informed approaches, and policies can also increase the vulnerability of people to trauma. For example, Charles Figley does an eloquent job articulating some of the reasons (some with their origin in policies) that U.S. veterans from the current wars are so vulnerable to PTSD in this podcast interview that I did with him: Similarly, you can look at the high rates of neighborhood violence in some poor neighborhoods to see the impact of problematic policies related to housing, poverty, and employment.

      Posted by njsmyth | April 21, 2012, 1:59 pm
      • Dr. Nancy Smyth, this podcast was very informative. As a first year social work student, who is placed a high school with limited financial resources, I often found myself frustrated at the fact that the system is not adequately prepared to address the behavioral problems of students. Often, the professionals have not lived through similar circumstances, and treat the adolescent students as incompetent. The professionals have not been trained in trauma informed care and knowing that “You have to go where the client is”. For me this does not seem genuine and students understand that. Also, I like the distinction between trauma and complex trauma. Addressing that there can be an event that can trigger the trauma was effective. At my field placement, there are a lot of students who have behavioral problems. The trauma wall, affects a lot of students here. In addition, students are having trouble coping,concentrating in class, and it is due a traumatic childhood.
        Trauma Informed Care is important aspect of understanding clients at all levels of social work. As previously stated, the perception of teachers here is that when students are addressed there is no sense of genuineness. It is almost as if they are being a “Sally Social Worker”. Currently, there has been a program instituted that has the values of trauma informed care at the school. I am happy to be here at a time when that happens, because the professionals are not trained and do not know how to establish boundaries.
        The various topics about trauma informed care that was mentioned through this podcast got me thinking about the aspects of a school and how I have seen all of the bad aspects you described in your podcast! I feel relieved that these issues are being addressed and I hope that it will help me be more effective as a social worker and a person.

        Posted by Nicole Brown | April 26, 2012, 3:46 pm
  2. Nicole, your comment illustrates so well why Trauma-Informed Care has to take a systems perspective. The goal in any organization is to get education for all the staff and then, ideally, support from the top. A really effective social worker learns how to influence people to help them reevaluate priorities and institute change, but this is a process that can take some time.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your experience!

    Posted by njsmyth | May 8, 2012, 2:06 am

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