What does Trauma-Sensitive/Trauma Informed mean?

The Mental Health Foundation report that around 1 in 3 adults in England report having experienced at least one traumatic event.

Traumatic events can be defined as experiences that put either a person or someone close to them at risk of serious harm or death. These can include:

  • road accidents
  • violence/prolonged abuse
  • natural disasters
  • serious illnesses

I have trained in trauma theory and I am informed about triggers, flashbacks, dissociation and overwhelming emotions so that I can support people with trauma, PTSD, and other mental health challenges.

In a yoga or mindfulness class I assume that anyone attending may have experienced trauma.

Therefore in a class you can expect:

  • To be invited to explore movement, breath work, or mindfulness practices that can help start to build a relationship with your mind/body, and help to build self resilience.
  • Invitational language – The power of choice is very important, so I will always give options, for example, “I invite you to ….”, “you may like to close yours eyes, keep them open, or lower your gaze….”, “in your own time…” . This offers a student the option of choice. Rather than being directed, you are encouraged to make choices, and in doing so, helping to build empowerment.
  • No physical assists – Touch is powerful, and can be triggering. I will not make a physical assist unless given permission to do so.
  • A trauma-informed environment – The setting of a room is vital to help build a feeling of safety. Being able to see the door, having a choice of where you would like to sit, avoiding incense or scented candles (smell can also be triggering) can all help to foster safety. I will also stay at the front of the class and not walk around students as they practise. If I do need to move, I will tell you where I am moving to.
  • Small classes, so that a sense of community can be fostered.

By working to these principles, I hope that this encourages students to feel safe in their environment, and start to build a relationship with their body and mind.

If you would like to learn more about trauma and its impact on your physical and mental health, Mind have very good support literature, and you can find it here: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/trauma/about-trauma/