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Intro to Trauma Informed Design

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Intro to Trauma Informed Design

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Every day we’re inundated with horrific videos and images of violence on our social media timelines. While most of us will remain unaffected, there is a large portion of the population who find themselves in the midst of a PTSD episode just browsing Facebook. With digital well being in its infancy, it is time for designers and technologists to look to health and wellness to learn about trauma informed care. Join interaction designer and rape survivor Theresa Slate as she introduces us to what Trauma Informed Design is and why it’s important.

Every day we’re inundated with horrific videos and images of violence on our social media timelines. While most of us will remain unaffected, there is a large portion of the population who find themselves in the midst of a PTSD episode just browsing Facebook. With digital well being in its infancy, it is time for designers and technologists to look to health and wellness to learn about trauma informed care. Join interaction designer and rape survivor Theresa Slate as she introduces us to what Trauma Informed Design is and why it’s important.

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Intro to Trauma Informed Design

  1. 1. Intro to Trauma Informed Design. How trauma informed care can teach us how to design responsibly and eliminate re-traumatization in our work UXPA • JANUARY 29, 2021
  2. 2. Bienvenides Kamusta こんにちは ‫שלום‬ Olá Hello! 你好 Bonjour ‫مرحبا‬ Ciao Salve Xin Chào Welcome and Thank You to UXPA for inviting me to speak today
  3. 3. Theresa Slate (she/her/hers) is a designer who has been crafting meaningful experiences in a range of industries for almost a decade. She is also a fierce advocate for creating spaces for designers of color in the industry, including increasing access to the design industry for people of color. Design Practitioner and Trauma Survivor.
  4. 4. Trigger Warning This webinar and the following courses will have frank and open discussions around various types of trauma including sexual assault, PTSD and its symptoms, emotional abuse, racial abuse and others. The purpose of these discussions is to illuminate taboo topics and show how re-traumatization occurs. These discussions may overwhelm and trigger you, especially of you are a trauma survivor. I ask everyone to create an atmosphere of mutual respect and sensitivity for everyone. And if at any point it becomes too much, feel free to take a break and re-join if you are able.
  5. 5. Group Norms Stay Engaged To stay engaged is a refusal to let your heart and mind “check out” of the conversation while leaving your body in place. It is a personal commitment each person makes, regardless of the engagement of others. It means remaining morally, emotionally, intellectually, and socially involved in the dialogue Patterns of Participation Everyone’s voice is important and is a valuable contribution to the conversation. This includes watching our air time, “Stepping Up” if we tend to process silently in our heads, and “Stepping Back” if we are verbal processors to allow ourselves to do some internal reflection. Speak Our Truths Use actual examples and experiences you’ve had. Don’t try to generalize for other people. We’re here to have real conversations and having them also means being honest and specific about our questions. Embrace Impact We’re going to talk about uncomfortable and taboo topics. Many of us are not well versed in these and will inadvertently say something harmful and insensitive. When that happens, resist the urge to defend yourself and instead listen, learn, and make amends to the people you’ve hurt.
  6. 6. Today we’re here because we’re… Interested in learning how to be more responsible designers. We know Human Centered Design is a powerful tool, and also, it doesn’t have all of the answers. Today we want to learn and apply lessons from trauma informed care to our work to make our products safer for everyone. Objective Education on and introduction to trauma, and how it shows up in products. Goal Set you up with the knowledge and tools to view your work though a trauma informed lens
  7. 7. Let’s Get Started
  8. 8. We’re going to enter a time machine and go back to the Autumn of 2016…
  9. 9. Turned on by default, the integration allowed facebook access to the entire history of my call logs and text messages from the beginning of my device. With it, they brought back an even more helpful feature “People you may want to contact” Facebook re-released SMS and phone integration.
  10. 10. My rapist’s smiling face.
  11. 11. If you’re unfamiliar, post traumatic stress disorder shows up in a variety of ways, especially when triggered. For me, I spent the next 4-6 hours suffering in silence and finding spare time to cry in a phone booth at work. I couldn’t tell anyone I needed to go home because I was suffering a PTSD episode. Facebook triggered my PTSD at the beginning of my work day.
  12. 12. Here’s the thing, I’m not alone in this happening There are many examples of people being triggered by news and social media for a variety of reasons. Veterans Shown War Videos Many vets suffer from PTSD and any images and sights and sounds similar to war time can trigger an episode that changes them. People Suffering a Loss Being reminded of a child, friend, to family member you lost in a traumatic way. Even being reminded of a memory when you were pregnant and ended up losing the child. Black People Inundated with Video of Black People Being Killed With the uprisings and continued violence against BIPOC in the United States, people share the videos of these killings which sends people in those communities into emotional distress.
  13. 13. Consider the statistics 8M 1 in 4 60% 50% 8 Million Americans Suffer from diagnosed PTSD. Considering the other figures, there are many more who go undiagnosed. 25% of Women Experience some for of sexual assault or sexual abuse. This number changes when we add race and class. 6 in 10 Men Suffer trauma in their life time. So there are more men walking around with trauma than not. 5 in 10 Women Suffer trauma in their life time. Half of women are walking around with trauma.
  14. 14. There isn’t a one size fits all definition of trauma. What someone finds traumatic is rooted in their lived experiences, so it makes it difficult to really get a number of how many traumatized people are walking around. Often, we only have one idea of what trauma looks like and this can cause people to diminish their own experiences as “not that bad” Trauma is an extremely personal experience.
  15. 15. Trauma literally changes your brain structure. This means, people who have experienced trauma and have not received treatment are wired differently at a physiological level. These responses, aren’t the traumatized person’s fault Diagram courtesy of PESI The Brain on Trauma In this diagram we see the brain’s response to a situation when it has been traumatized. For most people, their logic center (pre-frontal cortex) kicks in to assess the danger. In a traumatized brain, this center is under- active and the fear center (the amygdala) is on over drive. This means the traumatized person’s brain can not distinguish between what is a genuine threat.
  16. 16. So, if millions of people are walking around moments from being triggered, how do we responsibly take this into account?
  17. 17. Luckily, we don’t have to start from scratch. There are many industries we can look at as analogues.
  18. 18. These industries are using Trauma Informed Care. Defined as understanding and considering the pervasive nature of trauma and promotes environments of healing and recovery rather than practices and services that may inadvertently re-traumatize.
  19. 19. Patients who’ve been traumatized express that trauma in a myriad of ways. This includes not showing up to appointments, not following doctor’s orders, and general “non-compliant behavior” Healthcare is a prime example of providers grappling with traumatized patients. From “What’s wrong” to “What happened” On method healthcare providers are combating this is shifting the conversation on non- compliant behavior. Instead of asking the patient what is wrong with them, they ask if something happened that might cause them to be non-compliant Creating a safe environment Safe is different for different people, but providers have a variety of ways to train staff and create calming environments for patients. In many instances, it helps patients understand they are in control of their care since lack of control is a big trigger for trauma.
  20. 20. The wellness industry is another area where an understanding of trauma can make all the difference in treating patients and re- traumatizing them. Mindfulness is one area where people who’ve experienced trauma have found help. But, without a proper understanding of trauma, can do more harm than good. Wellness also serves as both an example and a treatment of handling trauma.
  21. 21. Because social workers work with a wide range of people experiencing things such as housing insecurity and childhood abuse, it is important for them to have an understanding of trauma and its impacts on an individual. Social workers are also trained to handle trauma. Understanding Personal Histories Social workers much look at the whole person in order to understand their vulnerabilities and triggers. This helps foster trust and build a deeper understanding of needs. Tailoring Treatment and Interventions As a result, social workers can tailor their treatments and interventions. How this might show up is, if a child experienced food insecurity growing up, a social worker might do their best to inform a care provider not to judge or scold a child for how they consume their food and give them steps to reassure the child this food source is stable.
  22. 22. Every industry using Trauma Informed Care is guided by the following The Five Principles of Trauma Informed Care Safety Ensuring physical and emotional safety through welcoming common areas and privacy is respected. Choice Individual has choice and control through clear and appropriate messaging on their rights and responsibilities. Collaboration Making decisions with the individual and sharing power through allowing an individual to play a significant role in planning and evaluating services. Trustworthiness Task clarity, consistency, and interpersonal boundaries through maintaining professional and respectful boundaries. Empowerment Prioritizing empowerment and skill building through providing an atmosphere that allows individuals to feel validated and affirmed at each and every contact at the agency.
  23. 23. By abiding by these principles, we’ve seen better outcomes There is improved health outcomes for patients including better compliance and reduced relapse into drugs and alcohol use. There is also a suggestion it reduces turn over and burn out among health practitioners.
  24. 24. How we leverage trauma informed care to create trauma informed design
  25. 25. Human centered design is great when it is able to categorize and simplify people into a single problem space. We have to change this concept in order to ensure our designs reduce harm. Avoiding re-traumatization is all about holistic thinking Move Beyond the Persona While personas are useful for establishing patterns, they aren’t useful or seeing a whole person who brings themselves to an experience. Consider layering on other sociological information onto your personas to track potential traumatic experiences. Realize, Identity Matters So much of the work we do aims to create a person without a gender identity, sexual identity, racial identity, or disability identification. This flattens the work. People are treated differently based on all sorts of identity classifications and to remove it from our work is dishonest and harmful.
  26. 26. Three considerations to guide your work.
  27. 27. Brainstorm how your design can be manipulated. Worst-case scenario planning will help you see what traumas will be tangentially related to a design you’re working on. Especially when we work with social based applications think about if someone were to see a dead relative or friend, their abuser, an estranged family member, and other connections that are less than warm. Think Black Mirror  Consideration # 1
  28. 28. Do a 10-15 minute post it activity to brainstorm how your product might be used to cause harm. Think through the human response if your product or service: • Surfaced a deceased relative or friend? • Allowed a rapist or abuser to get into contact? • Communicated a sudden and out of control event such as loss of money? • Freely played a traumatic video involving the user’s community or a close family member or friend? Black Mirror Activity Consideration # 1
  29. 29. In a global and diverse society, do unto others as you would want to be treated doesn’t really hold water. This puts your experience at the center and, if you have been lucky enough not to experience any trauma, you’re not going to know how to handle it, let alone someone’s specific type of trauma. This is where a new rule emerges, do unto others better than you would do for yourself. Think Beyond the Golden Rule Consideration # 2
  30. 30. Put your devil’s advocate to good use. Host a 10-20 minute debate where you or you and a partner argue both sides of a feature. Debate should be rooted in: • Demographic and sociological information (e.g. issue impacting a specific community) • The human cost or impact Golden Debate Club Activity Consideration # 2
  31. 31. We need to look at power structures in society. When creating a design, consider how it might be harmful or used to harm the more marginalized people in society such as women, trans people, people of color, and other groups. Be intersectional in your thinking to identify where there are gaps in the platform that don’t allow for the emotional support required for these groups. Think About Power Consideration # 3
  32. 32. Here is where you get to role-play as a real life villain. Use your product or service and assume bad intent. This means, use it from the perspective of someone who is (non exhaustive): • Racist • Homophobic • Transphobic • Mysogynistic • Ableist • Likes Ketchup on Chicago Dogs Abuse of Power Activity Consideration # 3
  33. 33. We covered so much today, so let’s do a quick recap of everything we learned.
  34. 34. Because trauma is a personal experience, there are many people with unresolved traumas walking around and using our products. Many of them are moments away from being triggered into relapses and potentially self harm. There are more people traumatized than not. Key Takeaway #1
  35. 35. Organizations that used trauma informed care have reported improved health outcomes, patient compliance, and general improved sense of wellness in their patients. Many industries use trauma informed care to reduce harm and improve outcomes. Key Takeaway #2
  36. 36. Taking these three elements into consideration for your next design will set you on the right path for reducing harm to trauma survivors using your products. Remember to think Black Mirror,Beyond the Golden Rule, and About Power Key Takeaway #3
  37. 37. The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van den Kolk, M.D A first of its kind work exploring the mind body connection and how trauma changes the body University at Buffalo, What is Trauma Informed Care An overview of trauma informs care and its principles Additional Resources
  38. 38. The only stupid question is an unasked question, so ask away!
  39. 39. If you want to go more in- depth join me in February for my short course.
  40. 40. Now go forth, and push your companies to do better and be more responsible. theresa@theresa.is @theresaslateis

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