Cutting-edge Behavioral Healthcare is trauma-informed & trauma-specific …

Research consistently substantiates the high co-prevalence of posttraumatic stress with behavioral health conditions, including addictive and serious/persistent mental health disorders. The findings of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study1 have expanded our understandings of what types of lived circumstances of abuse or neglect can damage health and impair future functioning. Traumatic histories need to be recognized as an expectation rather than an exception among today’s behavioral healthcare service populations, and available treatment needs to be available to meet this critical healing & recovery need. Systems of care have often advanced significantly with understandings of trauma-informed care principles2, but many have not sufficiently built out their array of clinical services to include access to trauma-specific interventions for better management and resolution of the distressing & life-interfering symptoms of posttraumatic stress. If and as individuals are ineffectively managing the impacts of past trauma, our interventions designed to address the maladaptive coping efforts represented by addiction and other destructive behavior patterns will not succeed without greater effectiveness at addressing & resolving foundational traumatic stress responses. Universal screening with the updated Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Checklist (PCL-5)3, has been shown to be an invaluable aid to properly informing diagnosis, client education, treatment planning, and outcome measurement to better serve the high percentage of post-traumatically stressed individuals represented among behavioral health client populations. Organization’s trauma-specific treatment options need to be sufficiently established and expanded to be able to provide access to resolution services as such needs are identified. Evidence-based interventions including cognitive-behavioral approaches, Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR), and exposure therapies need to be developed and made accessible/available to clients identified with such needs, along with groupwork curricula such as Seeking Safety &/or the Trauma Recovery & Empowerment (TREM) model, along with appropriate supervision and debriefing support for involved staff.


2 Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 57. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4801. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2014.

3 Weathers, F.W., Litz, B.T., Keane, T.M., Palmieri, P.A., Marx, B.P., & Schnurr, P.P. (2013). The PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5). Scale available from the National Center for PTSD at