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Trauma Responsive Care: Three Elements

Every human services organization has three basic elements, the executive suite, with the three Chief Officers and the senior management, the administration staff, which includes middle management, supervisors and support professionals, and direct care staff, who do the work of the organization and have the most sustained contact with the people services by the organization. Although job descriptions may blur these distinctions in practice, these three elements provide a model for most human service organizations, even ones with multiple services and divisions. Trauma Responsive Care covered each of these three spheres, identifying each one's unique tasks in implementing and sustaining a trauma responsive environment as well as how these spheres interact.


The Executive Suite:

The executive suite, named after the offices of senior management, equips the senior management team to navigate their own organization to thoroughly and completely prepare for and implement a sustained culture change to Trauma Responsive Care.



Trauma Responsive Care requires a high level of buy-in and call for changes that can only be implemented by senior management. Through this element Aldridge Palay covers mission and values with the aim of creating and reinforcing a culture or responsiveness. This is the foundation of sustainability. Work at this level of the organization not only reinforces the values and characteristics of good leadership, but also includes practical and targeted help in creating a firm foundation for a trauma responsive environment.


Management Core:

Every organization has a lynchpin. In human services organizations, it’s the front-line manager and the support professionals. They have the most contact with all parts of the organization, be it the executive suite, back-office functions or day-to-day operations. Front-line managers and professional support personnel can make or break any change effort. To make your agency trauma responsive, you have to care, or CARE, for this group of people.


A frontline manager cannot expect her staff to help people feel safe, connected and in control if she herself does not feel that way. In Trauma Responsive Care,


This element has two parts:


  1. Manager Development. Manager development to build basic management skills and capacity. These skills are then translated into sustaining support for a trauma responsive environment, i.e.: helping people feel safe, connected and in control.


  1. CARE training. Compassionate and Responsive Empathy (CARE), focuses supporting, teaching and nurturing this management or administrative level. They are vulnerable to vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue and burn-out.


  1. Train-the-Trainer Model. It includes our train-the-trainer model, using a Trauma Resource Team of trainers. This team receives training, support and educational tools to train the CALMER Skills with current and new staff as well as provide refresher training annually, thus creating sustainability.


Trauma Responsive Staff: The CALMER Skills, helping people feel safe, connected and in control.

It’s not enough to be informed about trauma. We have to know how to respond to it. Responding effectively and compassionately to individuals who have been affected by trauma helps organizations to have better outcomes with its most difficult-to-serve population. It can mean lower injury and unusual incident rates and higher staff satisfaction and retention. The known and unknown traumas your individuals (and your staff) have experienced make it harder for your agency to fulfill its mission of helping people have better lives. Thats why the CALMER Skills are so important. The CALMER Skills is a set of practical skills that equip staff to help people feel safe, connected and in control.


The most important part of Trauma Responsive Care is its direct attention on staff. The ‘product’ of any human service organization is the moment-by-moment interactions between staff and the people they support. Making those staff interactions skilled, responsive and caring can mean not just managing trauma, but to beginning to heal it.



Trauma Responsive Care: Click for more information on Ingredients and outcomes. Or go back to Introduction or Home.


Trauma Responsive Care