Although many mental health agencies and organizations are legitimately expressing the need for clinicians to be “trauma informed,” the reality is, the definition of that phrase is open to much interpretation. In this workshop we will explore what “trauma informed” really means, and we will address the importance of applying trauma informed concepts in the earliest phases of treatment. This includes doing an intake without doing harm as well as understanding the safest way to gather important historical and family or origin information throughout the fluid assessment phase of treatment. We will weave in the contributions of neuroscience to better understand the impact that trauma has on clients’ emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and somatic presentations. This will also help participants understand the cognitive and emotional conditions that need to be in place in order for clients to answer assessment questions with greater accuracy.
We will explore the necessity of weaving strengths-based questions into the assessment process, what to do when inadvertent triggering occurs, and how to re-ground and resource clients thus increasing the likelihood that they commit to staying in treatment. In addition, we will examine the counter-transferential dynamics that emerge for clinicians during the assessment phase and the impact they can have on successfully establishing a therapeutic alliance. Participants will leave feeling more empowered about how to gather important information in ways that are reparative rather than retraumatizing.