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Recognising And Responding When There Is Retraumatisation In The Residential Child Care Workforce

Recognising and responding when there is retraumatisation in the Residential Child Care workforce

There’s good evidence and experience that the Residential Child Care workforce has experienced more traumas in their lives than much of the rest of the population.

Working with the children who come to live in group living almost inevitably means at some time re-engaging with traumas from your life.

We need to be prepared that this will be the case, and we need to work with colleagues and organisations that recognise this will happen.

At times like this we need a culture that emphases sensitive support. We do not need a culture of Not Recognise It and Carry On.

We need to create responsive practices & policies for when retraumatisation occurs.

Retraumatisation is a conscious or unconscious reminder of past trauma that results in a re-experiencing of the initial trauma event. It can be triggered by a situation, an attitude or expression, or by certain environments that replicate the dynamics (loss of power/control/safety) of the original trauma.

It can happen when you are least expecting it. It can affect anyone, anytime, anyplace.

Last week attending a conference of seasoned colleagues many were affected by a presentation that connected to traumas experienced in life. Over the weekend there has been a lot of shared processing! Many of us are still in recovery and will be for quite a while.

Retraumatisation affects the whole of a person – the thinking, feeling, doing. Just ‘being’ is unsettled. It is intrusive.

It is a challenge to be preoccupied with a child when we are preoccupied with ourselves.

So, what to do? As ever culture is all important.

The principles of Trauma-informed Care (TIC) can be a useful guide. The six principles are:

  1. Safety
  2. Trustworthiness
  3. Peer Support
  4. Collaboration and Mutuality
  5. Empowerment and Voice and Choice
  6. Cultural and Historical and Gender Issues

Taking control of your own space

The resilience of experiencing ‘I have, I am, I can’ needs to be restored

Self-care by recognition and responding

Recognise in your self and let others recognise it too

  • Trauma impairs: memory, concentration, new learning and focus.
  • Trauma impacts an individual’s ability to: trust, cope, form healthy relationships.
  • Trauma disrupts: emotion identification; ability to self-sooth or control expression of emotions; one’s ability to distinguish between what is safe and unsafe
  • Trauma shapes: a person’s belief about self and others; one’s ability to hope; one’s outlook on life.

Responding by self, others, and organisations

  • Safety – create areas that calm and comfortable – in your mind, your emotions, in actual places
  • Choice – create options and let others support through creating them too
  • Empowerment – notice your capabilities and have them noticed by others too
  • Collaboration – make some decisions together – re-establish connection/community
  • Trust – give and receive clear and consistent information

The above is intended as a prompt to support. NCERCC appreciates there is a lot more that can be written, said, and done.