June 25, 2015 \ Emma Freter
What is Trauma Sensitive Design?


How do you make sure someone on your team is reaching their full potential? Is there any way to be certain that everyone feels a part of the team? Are there ways to make sure that people don’t fall between the cracks? These are some difficult questions that are not always top of mind.

Lou Bergholz the founder of Edgework Consulting and his team are changing the conversation and “are dedicated to strengthening leadership and management capabilities, and developing organizations where teams consistently achieve their personal and professional potential.” Rachel asks Lou’s insight on trauma sensitive design and the importance of this topic.

Rachel: What is trauma sensitive work?

Lou: Wherever you go the reality is that there are many, many kids, affected by this, by different kinds of stress that results in these kind of lingering affects of trauma. And they don’t have the definitive clinical care. And that’s where we look at and a lot of people look at approaches that people will call trauma informed or trauma sensitive, which mean that you’re taking all the research and the work that’s being done, acknowledging the reality that where we are we don’t have a social worker for every child who needs it. Can we find ways to work with staff and adults and even young adults who could be given a set of skills that align with good clinical practice, never claim to be doing clinical work, but still do what people call good healing.

Rachel: Why is it important to talk about trauma?

Lou: People are realizing for the first time in our history in the United States that the number of experiences that children have that are running counter to positive youth development are very high. So what that means is there’s a lot of people walking around, young people, who are functioning, who look like they’re doing okay, but actually who aren’t. And as they progress through childhood to adolescence to adulthood, they’re coming in at a less functioning ability to do the things we believe that everybody should be able to do, which is to take care of themselves, and raise a family, and do the kind of good contribution into society that makes us all productive and effective.

One of the main reasons why trauma, I think, has become more of a mainstream conversation is that the rapid rise of all the research in neuroscience in the last 25 years has allowed us to see that trauma is not just something emotional, its someone who couldn’t just handle something. It actually rewires your brain.


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