What are the 5 Principles of Trauma Informed Care?

Trauma Informed Care

What are the 5 Principles of Trauma Informed Care?

The Foundation for Effective Mental Health and Addiction Treatment

Do you know what the 5 principles of trauma informed care are? In this article, we explore all of the aspects of trauma informed care. By the end of this article, you’ll have a good understanding of what are the 5 principles of trauma informed care.

If you’d like to know about how Icarus Behavioral Health incorporates trauma informed care into our programs, please contact us.

What are the 5 Principles of Trauma Informed Care?

Principles of Trauma Informed Care

Trauma is a complex and often misunderstood phenomenon that can manifest in various ways throughout one’s life. When discussing trauma, the five principles of trauma informed care are often referenced as the basis of understanding and dealing with it. These five principles are safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment. Used together, they guide a trauma informed care approach for people with substance abuse and mental health problems.

The trauma informed approach ensures emotional and physical safety, meaning that further trauma is not created in addition to the original trauma that someone experienced.


Trauma informed care recognizes both physical safety, as well as emotional safety. Physical safety means avoiding harm or danger in any situation, while emotional safety involves feeling safe enough to express your feelings without being judged or criticized. To create a sense of safety for a person who has experienced trauma requires creating an environment where they feel safe to share their experiences and feelings without fear of being judged or rejected.

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Trustworthiness is the second principle of trauma and involves trusting that you will be treated with respect, care and understanding. It also means believing in the validity of your own thoughts and feelings. To foster trustworthiness, it’s important to create an atmosphere where a person can express themselves without fear of retribution, or feeling like their thoughts and feelings are invalidated.


Choice is the third principle of trauma informed care and involves allowing individuals to make their own decisions about how they want to approach healing from a traumatic experience. It also refers to having control over one’s own life, including making choices that are in one’s best interest. To create a sense of choice, it’s important to provide options and alternatives that allow the individual to make their own decisions about what works best for them when they are going through trauma informed care work.


Principles of Trauma Informed Care - Collaboration

Collaboration is the fourth principle of trauma informed care and refers to working with other people in order to achieve healing from a traumatic experience. This includes both external collaborators, such as therapists and support groups, as well as internal collaborators, such as active listening and self-reflection. To foster collaboration in a therapeutic environment it’s important to create an atmosphere that is non-judgmental and understanding of individual needs.


Empowerment is the fifth principle of trauma informed care and involves feeling in control of one’s healing journey. It also refers to believing in oneself having a sense of agency over one’s own life and developing healthier coping skills. To create an empowering environment for healing, it’s important to provide support, encouragement and resources that can help individuals find the strength within themselves to face their trauma.

The five principles of trauma can be used as a guide for understanding and dealing with traumatic experiences. By creating an environment that is safe, trusting, empowering and collaborative, individuals can find the strength to heal from their trauma. It’s important to remember that healing from trauma is possible when given the right support system and resources. There are many organizations and professionals

Physical and Emotional Safety

Physical and Emotional Safety

Creating an environment of safety is critical when engaging in trauma work, as it helps individuals to feel secure and supported. When people feel safe in their environment, they are more likely to open up about their experiences and express themselves without fear or judgement. This allows them to move through the healing process with greater ease.

Safety is especially important for those who have experienced traumatic events. Trauma often causes individuals to feel a sense of powerlessness and vulnerability, making it difficult to trust others or even open up about what has happened. When safety is established in the therapeutic environment, however, these feelings of powerlessness can be reduced, enabling the individual to engage in their own healing journey with greater confidence.

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The Added Importance of Safety in a Health Service Setting

Safety can be established through various means, depending on the individual’s needs and preferences. For example, providing a secure physical space is a key component of creating an environment of safety. It is important that individuals feel safe in their surroundings while someone is providing trauma informed care, both physically and emotionally. This might include having access to comfortable furniture, warm lighting, calming music, and artwork that reflects the individual’s identity.

In addition to providing a secure physical space, creating an environment of safety requires establishing clear boundaries between therapist and client. During trauma work, it is important for individuals to have a sense of control over their experience by being able to set limits on what they are willing and not willing to discuss. Establishing these boundaries helps individuals to feel safe, respected and supported in the trauma informed care process and is an essential part of the trauma informed approach.

The Power of Language to Harm or Heal

Power of Language

The use of language is also significant when creating an environment of safety for the trauma informed approach. It is important to use words that are respectful, non-judgmental, and validating. This means avoiding language that might make people feel as though their feelings, experiences, or beliefs are invalid. Additionally, being mindful of the language used when talking to or about the individual is essential in order to foster safety and trust during trauma informed care.

In addition to using non-judgmental language, it can also be helpful to use specific therapeutic interventions that promote safety. These might include mindfulness practices, grounding techniques, and other forms of self-care activities. These interventions can help individuals to reconnect with their bodies and develop a sense of regulation following a traumatic event or traumatic events, thereby increasing their feeling of safety and security.

Creating an environment of safety requires building a strong therapeutic relationship with the individual and is crucial to trauma informed care. This involves actively listening to the individual’s story and experiences without judgment, as well as developing a relationship of trust and understanding. It is important to be patient and respectful while allowing the individual space to process their emotions, express their thoughts and feelings, and move through the healing process at their own pace.

We hold ourselves to a very high standard in this regard, following the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) guidelines on trauma informed care.

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Your Destination for Trauma Informed Care and Recovery

At Icarus Behavioral Health substance abuse mental health care providers, we recognize the importance of trauma informed care. For this reason, we incorporate trauma informed care principles into all of our work.

If you would like more information on how we utilize trauma informed care in our substance abuse and mental health recovery process programs at Icarus Behavioral Health, contact us directly for a confidential consultation.

Just having options for a different tomorrow can be a huge relief, so please reach out now!

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