Five Things to Know About Trauma

Joann Schladale

The term “trauma informed” is getting a lot of attention lately as federal and state governments and other funding sources promote this approach for optimal service delivery. Educators may feel at a loss about what constitutes a trauma informed approach and how best to implement one.

The good news is…there are excellent cost effective resources to help make your job easier and more effective.

Four components of a trauma informed approach for sexual health are: sex education, access to contraceptives and contraceptive services, trauma resources, and trauma therapy when indicated. No matter which of these services you provide please remember these five things…

 The bad news:

  1. Trauma can influence physical problems such as cardiovascular, metabolic, and immunological disorders; deficits in functioning such as attachment problems, anxiety, depression, aggression, addictions, and eating disorders; challenges with memory and organizational skills; emotional and behavioral regulation; impulsivity; harm to self and/or others; and problem sexual behavior.

 The very good news:

  1. Humans are very resilient and often bounce back from adversity without a need for intensive intervention.
  2. It’s all about affect regulation. Affect regulation is the ability to manage our emotions without causing harm to ourselves or others (Shore, 2003). Self-regulation is the capacity to formulate a plan of one’s own and implement behavior to carry it out (Miller & Rollnick, 2013). Everyone, no matter how hard life has been, can practice self-regulation.
  3. Educating trauma survivors with user-friendly empirical evidence about stopping harm, healing pain, and changing lives can influence optimal sexual decision making. And
  4. Becoming the person we want to be involves repetitive practice with corrective feedback. Like anything else in life, practice makes perfect. Anyone who has experienced trauma can learn to use a broad range of multi-sensory coping strategies to manage difficult situations and minimize the damaging effects listed above.

You can download A Trauma Informed Approach for Adolescent Sexual Health (Schladale, 2103) at

by Joann Schladale, MS, LMFT
Resources for Resolving Violence, Inc.