SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach

By SAMHSA’s Trauma and Justice Strategic Initiative          [Download Resource]


‘The purpose of this paper is to develop a working concept of trauma and a trauma-informed approach and to develop a shared understanding of these concepts that would be acceptable and appropriate across an array of service systems and stakeholder groups. …

From SAMHSA’s perspective, it is critical to promote the linkage to recovery and resilience for those individuals and families impacted by trauma. Consistent with SAMHSA’s definition of recovery, services and supports that are trauma-informed build on the best evidence available and consumer and family engagement, empowerment, and collaboration.


Key Content Areas:

  • Purpose and approach: Developing a framework for trauma and a trauma-informed approach
  • SAMHSA’s concept of trauma
  • SAMHSA’s trauma-informed approach: Key assumptions and principles
  • Guidance for implementing a trauma-informed approach
  • Next steps: Trauma in the context of community


A program, organization, or system that is trauma-informed realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery; recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system; and responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices, and seeks to actively resist re-traumatization.
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