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Restorative Design Conference 2020: Trauma-Informed Design

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Restorative Design Conference 2020: Trauma-Informed Design

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Panel at the 2020 Restorative Design Conference, on the topic of "Trauma-Informed Design."

This panel discusses definitions of trauma, some of the ways traditional human-centered design practices might cause harm by triggering past trauma or even creating new trauma, how to create safety in our engagements with communities, and how designers might bring a trauma-informed lens to their work.

Panel at the 2020 Restorative Design Conference, on the topic of "Trauma-Informed Design."

This panel discusses definitions of trauma, some of the ways traditional human-centered design practices might cause harm by triggering past trauma or even creating new trauma, how to create safety in our engagements with communities, and how designers might bring a trauma-informed lens to their work.

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Restorative Design Conference 2020: Trauma-Informed Design

  1. 1. Restorative Design Conference | October 2020 Trauma-Informed Design Panel with Rachael Dietkus, Sarah Fathallah, and Sara Cantor Aye
  2. 2. What is TRAUMA?
  3. 3. 33 “Trauma is a spontaneous protective mechanism used by the body to stop or thwart further (or future) damage. Trauma is not a flaw or a weakness. It is a highly effective tool of safety and survival.” - Resmaa Menakem, LICSW, SEP
  4. 4. 44 “Trauma is what happens inside of you as a result of a traumatic event. It is a loss of connection to oneself and to the present moment. In my work, trauma is just always there in the background.” - Dr. Gabor Maté
  5. 5. 55 There are several definitions of trauma.
  6. 6. 6 One definition 6 According to the DSM*, trauma is defined as... “exposure to death or threatened death, serious injury or threatened injury, or sexual violence or threatened sexual violence by either: (a) direct exposure, (b) witnessing (in person), (c) indirectly, by learning that a close relative or friend was exposed to trauma (if the trauma was death, it must have been violent or accidental), (d) repeated or extreme indirect exposure to aversive details of the event, usually in the course of professional duties.” *Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
  7. 7. 77 According to SAMHSA*, individual trauma is defined as... “resulting from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as: 1) physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and 2) has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, and/or spiritual well-being.” *Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, branch of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Another definition
  8. 8. 88 Acute trauma single incident Chronic trauma repeated and prolonged Complex trauma varied and multiple traumatic events Relational trauma consistent disruption of a child’s sense of being safe and loved within a family system Collective trauma affects social groups long subjected to interpersonal violence, structural violence, and historical harms Racialized trauma effects of racism on one’s mental & physical health And several other forms and related terms: developmental trauma, secondary/vicarious trauma, traumatic stress, grief, PTSD, Complex-PTSD, re-traumatization, etc. Additional types of trauma
  9. 9. 99 “There are pitfalls in the singular application of Western categories in diagnostic psychiatric disorders.” - Maurice Eisenbruch, clinical psychiatrist in Australia
  10. 10. 10 Historical trauma 10 Also known as intergenerational trauma, and defined as... The cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over the lifespan and across generations, emanating from massive group trauma. Observed among Lakota and other Native populations, Jewish Holocaust survivors and descendants, African American slave descendants, descendants of Mexican and Latin American immigrants, and Japanese American internment camp survivors and descendants. Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart’s definition of Historical Trauma.
  11. 11. 11 White supremacy as trauma 11 Our bodies have a form of knowledge that is different from our cognitive brains. This knowledge is typically experienced as a felt sense of constriction or expansion, pain or ease, energy or numbness. Often this knowledge is stored in our bodies as wordless stories about what is safe and what is dangerous. White supremacy–and all the claims, accusations, excuses, and dodges around it– are a trauma response: This response lives not inside psyches, but deeply within bodies. The attitudes, convictions, and beliefs of white-body supremacy are reflexive cognitive side effects, like the belief that a claustrophobe that the walls are closing in. These ideas have been reinforced through institutions as practices, procedures, and standards. Resmaa Menakem explaining white supremacy as a trauma response and the trauma of white-body supremacy.
  12. 12. 1212 “Trauma decontextualized in a person looks like personality. Trauma decontextualized in a family looks like family traits. Trauma in a people looks like culture.” - Resmaa Menakem, LICSW, SEP
  13. 13. 1313 What triggers past trauma?
  14. 14. 1414 Trauma fundamentally alters how the brain processes what’s going on. Memory is encoded as intense sensory fragments, which then form the basis of subsequent flashbacks. This also means trouble remembering the experience as a sequential, fully contextualized experience. “When you ask somebody who’s been traumatized to recall and communicate their trauma, they have very accurate information if you ask them about those sensory fragments. But if questions are about sequencing and context, you run the risk of getting information that may be inaccurate.” David Lisak, Neurobiology of Trauma. Trauma and the nervous system
  15. 15. 1515 Trauma and the nervous system After a traumatic event, one’s central nervous system reacts poorly to subsequent experiences of stress, especially when being triggered. Survivors either have: • Intensified anxiety in reaction to stress (including acts of aggression against the self or others), or • Social and emotional withdrawal. Survivors are often unable to modulate their affect. Rick Nizzardini, “Exploring Trauma Histories in the Clinical Setting” lecture.
  16. 16. 1616 Common triggers • Unpredictability • Sudden changes or transitions • Sensory overload • Feeling vulnerable • Rejection • Loneliness or isolation • Confrontation • Loss of control • Feeling disrespected • Intimacy • Praise or positive attention Stephanie (Witt) Guinosso, ETR internal presentation.
  17. 17. How to create SAFETY?
  18. 18. 1818 Safety in the self Safety in the environment Safety in the clinical frame Rick Nizzardini, “Overview of Trauma-Informed Assessment and Intervention” course.
  19. 19. 1919 Safety in the self Safety in the environment Safety in the clinical frame Safety in the facilitation relationship
  20. 20. 2020 Safety in the self
  21. 21. 2121
  22. 22. 2222
  23. 23. 2323YLabs, “How to explore taboo topics with young people during design research.”
  24. 24. 2424 Safety in the environment
  25. 25. 2525
  26. 26. 2626
  27. 27. 2727
  28. 28. 2828 Safety in the facilitation relationship
  29. 29. 2929
  30. 30. 3030
  31. 31. 3131
  32. 32. But, SAFETY is only one piece of the puzzle.
  33. 33. 33 Trauma-informed systems 33 1. Understanding trauma and stress 2. Safety and stability 3. Cultural humility and equity 4. Compassion and dependability 5. Collaboration and empowerment 6. Resilience and recovery San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Trauma Informed Systems (TIS).
  34. 34. 34 Trauma-informed systems 34 1. Understanding trauma and stress 2. Safety and stability 3. Cultural humility and equity 4. Compassion and dependability 5. Collaboration and empowerment 6. Resilience and recovery San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Trauma Informed Systems (TIS).

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