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Trauma and Adults

Approximately four million adolescents have been victims of a serious physical assault, and nine million have witnessed serious violence during their lifetimes. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, one of the largest scientific research studies of its kind, found that individuals with four or more of ten adverse life experiences were affected well into their adulthood and throughout their lifespan. The Childhood Traumatic Stress made them more likely to smoke cigarettes, abuse drugs or alcohol, become obese, develop depression or battle health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. The ACE Questionnaire was taken voluntarily by 17,000 Kaiser Permanente patients participating in routine health screenings. Data resulting from their participation revealed staggering proof of the health, social and economic risks that result from childhood trauma.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) National Center for Trauma Informed Care (NCTIC) has a cadre of technical assistance tools and practice information. NCTIC is a technical assistance center dedicated to building awareness of trauma-informed care and promoting the implementation of trauma-informed practices in programs and services.

SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence- based Programs and Practices (NREPP) is a searchable online registry of more than 260 interventions supporting mental health promotion, substance abuse prevention, and mental health and substance abuse treatment. It connects members of the public to intervention developers so they can learn how to implement these approaches in their communities.

Some examples of best practices on the NREPP website:

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a one-on-one form of psychotherapy that is designed to reduce trauma-related stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and to improve overall mental health functioning.
  • Helping Women Recover: A Program for treating Substance Abuse and Beyond Trauma: A Healing Journey for Women are manual-driven treatment programs that, when combined, serve women in criminal justice or correctional settings who have substance use disorders and are likely to have co-occurring trauma histories (i.e., sexual or physical abuse).
  • The Trauma Recovery and Empowerment Model (TREM) is a fully manualized group-based intervention designed to facilitate trauma recovery among women with histories of exposure to sexual and physical abuse.

The National Association of Mental Health Program Directors Guidebook: Engaging Women in Trauma Informed Peer Support was created as a technical assistance document to help make trauma-informed peer support available for women who receive or have received services in behavioral health or other human services setting. The 13-chapter document includes segments on gender politics, culture, religion, self-awareness, healing practices and reclaiming power.