Techniques and Overall System
There is a distinct difference between trauma informed treatment techniques (EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, Brain Spotting, DBT, etc.) and a trauma informed care (TIC) program system. For the most powerful treatment of trauma, BOTH the therapeutic techniques AND a properly designed program should be in place. According to the Trauma Informed Care Project, "Trauma informed care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma. Trauma Informed Care also emphasizes physical, psychological and emotional safety for both consumers and providers, and helps survivors rebuild a sense of control and empowerment." We have specifically designed a program based on these principles; indeed, we are pioneers in this type of programming.
According to Sam Himelstein Ph.D. (Of the Center for Adolescent Studies) among other program characteristics, a program WITHOUT trauma sensitivity will include: "A misuse or overuse of displays of power, a disempowering and devaluing of consumers, an environment where consumers are labeled and pathologized, and a focus on what's wrong." These characteristics are displayed in many wilderness programs through the use of a level system-- a system of consequencing, and a lack of emphasis on acknowledging good and positive behaviors and dispositions in the participants.
According to the same author, a system WITH trauma sensitivity will include: "A recognition that coercive interventions cause trauma and retraumatization, a valuing of the consumer's voice in all aspects of care, an all-inclusive of the survivor's perspective, and recognition of person as a whole." These characteristics are displayed in our wilderness program by the fact that we do not have a level system, we do not employ consequencing, we have a sophisticated system for powerfully acknowledging positive internal change in our students, and we have at the center of the 'soul' of our program a complete focus on seeing our students as people to be deeply respected.