by Michael P. Brechtel, MEd, JD, LMT, Traumatic Incident Reduction Trainer and Facilitator
The difference between traditional mental health and trauma specific treatment is like bad and good firefighting.
In Western Mental Health, when an alarm goes off (a disturbing life event or symptom), the truck drives by the building. If they don’t see smoke, they keep driving. The western model is about illness, dysfunction, doing or not doing. As long as someone can do what they’re supposed to do, and avoid what they’re not supposed to do, they’re not ill. They may not be well, but we don’t care about that, as long as they can perform. If they can perform ok, they get no help until they stop performing. Then it’s too late.
With Trauma Specific Care, when an alarm goes off, the crew assumes there’s a reason- probably a fire. They go into the building and search until they find it, or they’re sure it’s a false alarm. They know if you ignore a fire, it won’t go away…