Women's College Research Institute

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Trauma Talks conference furthers dialogue on trauma-informed care

From Connect, April 8, 2014

After a highly successful launch, Trauma Talks will hold its second conference on May 30, 2014, bringing together experts in psychological trauma, medicine and mental health to continue dialogue on trauma-informed care.

“Our conference is an opportunity for healthcare providers to learn not only how trauma impacts a person’s health, but how it influences the ways survivors interact with the healthcare system,” said conference chair Dr. Catherine Classen, academic leader, Trauma Therapy Program, Women’s College Hospital. “Our goal is to help healthcare providers identify ways they can adjust how care is delivered to accommodate a survivors’ unique vulnerability. Working within a trauma-informed care framework helps ensure trauma survivors are not re-traumatized by their healthcare experiences.”

The conference, established in 2012, grew out of a research project led by Dr. Classen. The first conference featured several keynote speakers who addressed the impacts of trauma and explored key principles of trauma-informed care. This year’s conference, entitled “Advancing Cultural Understandings in Trauma-Informed Care,” will focus on culture and its significance when working with trauma survivors.

“It’s important not to think about trauma in isolation, as it takes place across cultures. Each culture has its own way of understanding trauma and may have its own methods for healing,” said Dr. Classen. “Ensuring a survivor gets the care they need requires healthcare providers to understand how to approach cultural differences. They don’t necessarily need to have an extensive knowledge of all cultures; instead, they need to know how to open up dialogue and how to repair unintended gaps in the healthcare relationships.”

The conference will feature keynote addresses and workshop sessions. There will also be a panel discussion exploring trauma-informed care with different groups including refugees, survivors of torture and war, indigenous populations, the LGBTQ community and police. This year’s conference will engage attendees with group discussions and in-depth dialogue on how to integrate cultural understandings into trauma-informed practice.

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