Culturally competent care acknowledges and understands cultural diversity with respect to clients with diverse values, beliefs, and behaviors. It’s also extremely important to consider one’s family culture, along with their faith background and ethnic diversity.
We must all do our best to see through the lens of our clients’ perspectives, even if we don’t completely understand or haven’t gone through their experience. When we share our pain and it is met with great compassion and empathy, and culturally competent care, there is much healing.
Culturally competent care and compassion is so important.
“Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to places where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it.” -Henri J.M. Nouwen
“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”
-Henri J.M. Nouwen
“We are called at certain moments to comfort people who are enduring some trauma. Many of us don’t know how to react in such situations, but others do. In the first place, they just show up. They provide a ministry of presence. Next, they don’t compare. The sensitive person understands that each person’s ordeal is unique and should not be compared to anyone else’s. Next, they do the practical things–making lunch, dusting the room, washing the towels. Finally, they don’t try to minimize what is going on. They don’t attempt to reassure with false, saccharine sentiments. They don’t say that the pain is all for the best. They don’t search for silver linings. They do what wise souls do in the presence of tragedy and trauma. They practice a passive activism. They don’t bustle about trying to solve something that cannot be solved. The sensitive person grants the sufferer the dignity of her own process. She lets the sufferer define the meaning of what is going on. She just sits simply through the nights of pain and darkness, being practical, human, simple, and direct.” -David Brooks, The Road to Character
What Is Trauma–Informed Therapy?
A trauma–informed approach seeks an awareness of the widespread impact of trauma on life experiences and relationships. It recognizes trauma’s role in the outlook, emotions and behavior of a person with a trauma history. A trauma–informed approach also accepts that trauma’s impact is far more prevalent than most people realize.
As trauma–informed therapists, we choose to focus not only on the behavior someone is trying to change —but also on the underlying reasons for the behavior and the relief it provides currently.
We focus on behavior, beliefs and desired relief so we can do repair work at the deepest level to make the change long lasting. A trauma–informed approach attends to the underlying trauma from any cause.
Trauma–informed care can apply to anyone. It’s not just for people with obvious sources of trauma like physical or sexual abuse. Trauma–informed care applies as well to people with a history of depression or anxiety, people with emotional abuse or attachment wounds, or any kind of trauma.
When a therapist has a trauma–informed approach:
- They will talk about safety from the beginning: physical safety, emotional safety, and creating a safe environment where healing can occur.
- They will talk about self-care, boundaries, grounding and resourcing.
- Their approach recognizes that your behavior isn’t who you are—rather that it makes sense based on your history. It is what happened to you, not who you are!
- They work to understand your coping skills, how you survived your experiences, and help you build new healthy coping skills.
- They move at a pace you’re comfortable with, collaborating with you along the way, and work to keep you within your window of tolerance of emotions.