Published March 17, 2021
Reprinted from the Fall 2020 UB International newsletter.
Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) is an organizational culture change process that asks agencies, schools, hospitals and businesses to both acknowledge the high prevalence of trauma and inform the way they do their work to avoid the potential of re-traumatizing both individuals and the workforce.
In January 2019, the Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care (ITTIC) published its Trauma-Informed Organizational Change Manual, which operationalizes planning, implementing and sustaining trauma-informed culture change. The manual was written by UB School of Social Work Clinical Full Professor and Co-Director of ITTIC, Susan A. Green, and ITTIC Project Manager/Trainer, Samantha P. Koury.
While TIC has been gaining traction in the United States and many countries over the last decade, two organizational leaders in Ljubljana recognized the gap in trauma-informed education and practice in Slovenia—observing a lack of awareness regarding the consequences of traumatic experiences and application of this knowledge in day-to-day practice.
In May 2020, Mitja Svete, the president of Združenje za MOC (Reclaim the Power Association), and Nina Kocar, director of Luna vila, inštitut za zašcito otrok (Moon Fairy, Institute for Child Protection), reached out to Green after seeing the Trauma-Informed Organizational Change Manual available for download on ITTIC’s website in hopes of possible collaboration. Both organizations are non-profits working in the field of sexual violence and child sexual abuse.
“Our principle idea and desire is to introduce the concept and practice of Trauma-Informed Care and trauma-informed organizations in Slovenia, as well as broader in the European Union,” Svete and Ko ar note.
“Thus, we thought of applying the concepts of Trauma-Informed Care in three steps: 1) in our own organizations, 2) in selected organizations in Slovenia through a European Union (EU)-funded project and 3) in selected organizations in the European Union through an EU-funded project.”
As part of their first steps to achieving their goals, Svete and Ko ar began personalized consultation and coaching with ITTIC as “Trauma-Informed Champions” in July 2020 — meaning they would learn the framework and how to apply trauma-informed values and practices to their own organizations, and then be in the position to bring the information to others.
Both Champions meet virtually with Koury for 1.5 hours every 1-2 months to discuss and apply the trauma-informed organizational model to their own work. The Champions also complete small assignments consisting of reading from ITTIC’s Trauma-Informed Organizational Change Manual and written reflection in-between consults and have access to an online website hub called Samepage with various additional resources and materials.
Združenje za MOC’s mission is to provide comprehensive psychosocial assistance and support to those who have experienced sexual violence on their path to recovery. Lunina vila treats and prevents trauma in children resulting from sexual abuse and physical/emotional abuse and/or neglect.
“It’s been an incredible experience working with both of them so far,” says Koury. “To see the nuances of how what we know about trauma-informed culture change is operationalized in another country, and to be even a small part of informing what that implementation change looks like in their organizations and eventually at a much broader level has truly been an honor.”
After completing their own consultation and coaching in early 2021, the Champions plan to apply for EU funds to promote trauma-informed practices in other organizations in both Slovenia and in partner countries.