What is Trauma?

When we talk about trauma, we realize that many definitions, experiences and frameworks of trauma exist. The project team of Co-Creating Well-being wants to bring them together and set a common language when talking about trauma.

“Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

What does it mean to be trauma-informed, and what does a trauma-informed approach look like?

“A program, organization, or system [or person] 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.”

When we build our capacity to be trauma-informed, it changes how we approach working with people. A trauma-informed approach looks like:

  • Safety
  • Trustworthiness & Transparency
  • Collaboration & Mutuality
  • Empowerment, Voice & Choice
  • Peer Support
  • Understanding Cultural, Historical and Gender Issues

Bibliography note:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4884. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2014.


SAMHSA Trauma-Informed Care
Women, Children and Trauma White Paper
Western New York Workshop Training Slides
Central New York Workshops Training Slides
University of Buffalo Institute for Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care
Ideas 42 Interrupting Poverty Whitepaper
Childhood Development and Trauma Infographic
Ounce of Prevention Fund—Early Childhood
ACEs Study CDC
Trauma in Obstetrics

Program Partners

Collaborative Partners

Funded Partners