Over the past decade, there has been increasing recognition of both:
- the high prevalence of complex trauma, adverse childhood events and the different ways in which trauma presents and
- how important it is to ensure that services are delivered in ways that do not risk people becoming re-traumatised, in relation to how workers engage with them and the topics discussed.
Given the potential of the COVID-19 context and measures to cause, exacerbate and reactivate trauma, it has been argued that –
Trustworthiness, transparency; collaboration and empowerment are key principles of trauma-informed care, which can guide service delivery policies and practices (SAMSHA, 2014). However, there can be barriers to putting these into practice. Tools that offer a clear framework for translation of the principles of trauma informed care into practice can benefit many organisations and help them overcome these barriers.
The Outcomes Star tools have many features that directly support trauma informed working, including:
Relationship-based – The collaborative process of practitioners and clients completing the Outcomes Star helps to build a trusting and positive relationship, giving service users greater control and voice and within which important connections in the person’s life are discussed.
Empowering – The Journey of Change is sensitive to small but important steps and progress. Visually showing change can be empowering and motivating for both practitioners and clients.
Focuses on the present not someone’s history – completing the Star is a conversation about someone’s life, how things are for them and what they are doing now, rather than bringing up past histories or traumatic experiences.
Strengths based not deficit-based; they use positive language focusing on the process of change and the support and actions needed, not on the severity of problems.
Holistic – the whole person and all relevant life circumstances are recognised. Plotting where someone is on the Star chart provides a clear representation of where support is needed and where things are going well, highlighting the interaction between different areas of someone’s life.
As well as the tools themselves, training and guidance around the Outcomes Star emphasises flexibility in responding to a client’s window of tolerance and preferences – for example, about when and how to introduce and discuss the different outcome areas. There is also guidance about identifying appropriate action plans in a trauma-informed way that is sensitive to the client’s capacity to drive things forward themselves.
Triangle is committed to continuous learning and improvement of the Outcomes Stars and how they are used. Staff have received training and advice from experts on trauma informed care and we are currently reviewing some of our older, widely used Stars using a trauma-informed lens.