Deb Robinson, the Primary Mental Health Worker for Brighter Futures for Children, will soon be taking on the role of One Reading’s trauma-informed practitioner. Here she reflects on the importance of Reading becoming a trauma-informed town.
What does it mean to you to be taking on this role?
I have been practising in a trauma-informed way for 16 years, so am really pleased to be able to bring all that experience to this role. I am extremely excited about being instrumentally involved in the change in paradigm and developing the practice of our statutory and voluntary teams. The chance to be part of something new, thoughtful and creative in Reading is inspiring. Being trauma informed is one thing, the next step will be to translate that into practice. That’s the most joyful part – when something makes sense, people open up and almost anything becomes possible.
What is a trauma-informed approach?
A trauma-informed approach starts from a position that past and present traumatic experiences in a person’s life can have an impact on their physical, relational and emotional health. We are then interested in how that person has survived those experiences and how we see that reflected in their life now. We move from asking ‘what is wrong with you’ to ‘what happened to you’. So for example, the child who lives in a home where there is domestic abuse struggles to regulate their emotions at school. And, in particular, tends to resolve problems by fighting – either with their arms or their mouth! A trauma-informed approach sees their behaviour as a direct consequence of their life experience. When you see a child differently, you see a different child. You see a child who needs help and a family that needs support; trauma is intergenerational. A trauma-informed approach encourages us to see context around the issues many of our families are facing on a very regular basis. It is a bridge that allows us to link experience with behaviour – a normal reaction to abnormal experience.
What else is happening to make Reading trauma informed?
There’s so much good work going on in Reading right now, across many agencies – statutory and voluntary. The Police have been particularly active in adopting a trauma-informed approach to their work with young people. Schools are really interested in therapeutic approaches to supporting all children. The community is mobilising around the idea of a ‘self-healing trauma-informed community’. Plus, there are many other groups looking to understand children’s behaviour as communication and prevent long-term harm. With so much going on we need to keep moving forward but in a joined up way. The trauma-informed practitioner role will support the development of an over-arching strategy and a road map that all One Reading community members can incorporate and build on.