mauro mora on Unsplash

Are you one of the many healthcare professionals asking, “How can I, as a healthcare professional, avoid re-traumatizing my clients?” Are you curious about the role of trauma? Do you want to provide a safe container for your clients to build the trust and confidence they need to take charge of their lives and make sustainable changes in improving their overall diabetes care?

Learn how certain systems, institutions, policies, and procedures can traumatize or re-traumatize many of the clients who are seeking diabetes care.

Understanding what can re-traumatize your clients will improve your effectiveness and make your job more enjoyable. If you are among the growing number of professionals seeking to increase their understanding of trauma-informed practices consider the Weight Neutral for Diabetes Care Symposium. This guided 30-day professional educational program is ideal for dietitians, nutritionists, health coaches, diabetes care and education specialists, therapists, and social workers interested in understanding trauma-informed care. This bi-annual program starts April 5 and runs through May 2, 2021, and focuses on reducing health inequity, including understanding the role of trauma in this cycle. Learn how diabetes care is impacted by fatphobia, weight stigma, trauma, and disordered eating in this amazing 18 CPE guided professional training beginning April 5, 2021.

Systems, Organizations, Laws, Policies, and Programs

The Institute on Trauma and Trauma-informed Care (ITTIC) explains that systems, policies, procedures, and ‘the way things are done” can be re-traumatizing for many people. Systems include organizations, laws, policies, and programs connected together and coordinated to produce an outcome/product. This means Healthcare is a system. Systems are made up of institutions or organizations and their physical locations. This means hospitals, outpatient clinics, community clinics, gyms, grocery stores, schools, and private practices are all institutions/organizations that have policies and procedures for individuals seeking services.

Systems that require traumatized clients to retell their story, or feel impersonal run the risk of fueling disconnection. This can be compounded by oppressive language, such as classifying clients as ‘Obese’ or ‘Diabetic’. These two examples reduce a person to a diagnosis/label. Essential systems including an electronic system create rigid intake procedures and if not handled carefully, can reduce healthcare to an impersonal experience leaving the client with a sense of having no or limited choice. This again fuels an invisible bias that can prevent the individual from sharing their own experience.

Since there isn’t ‘a’ single individual in charge of a system or an organization, fear, trepidation, or reluctance may be expressed regarding meeting with a diabetes care professional. Clients, especially those who have historically experienced oppression of any kind, including racial, sexual, or economic can be traumatizing/re-traumatizing if a session feels dehumanizing.

Stigma

Adding to a client’s reluctance to seek services is the role of stigma, which is defined as a mark of shame. The experience of stigma can magnify feelings of being misunderstood not just by the healthcare professionals but by family, friends, co-workers, or others. When the relentless wave-like effect of multiple stigmas - weight, sexual identity, gender, economic, or diabetes - is present clients are often re-traumatized. Traumatized clients typically need additional support and services that aren’t covered by many health insurances, adding another barrier and reinforcing the belief that a situation can’t improve.



What We Can Do

Forming a relationship with clients who have experienced trauma requires us to shift our focus from giving information to hearing our clients. Creating the intention to have the client ‘feel heard’ is a foundational way to avoid re-traumatizing a client. While this change in our counseling approach can’t happen overnight, learning and practicing how to use patient-centered, non-judgmental counseling, which is free of coercive practices and oppressive language, is how providers can make this intentional switch.

If you are among the growing number of professionals seeking to increase your understanding of trauma-informed practices consider the Weight Neutral for Diabetes Care Symposium. This guided 30-day professional educational program is ideal for dietitians, nutritionists, health coaches, diabetes care and education specialists, therapists, and social workers interested in understanding trauma-informed care.

The 2021 WN4DC Symposium provides 18.5 CPE!

  • The learning is layered - This presentation is a great way to move into the final Disorder Eating Track which will help you prevent, recognize, and feel more confident counseling disordered eating clients with diabetes.
  • This conference is the only Health At Every Size program focusing on diabetes care.
  • We have brought together 16 amazing speakers, four tracks of curated, layered learning.

These sessions are broken up into short “digestible” chunks filled with usable information and hands-on learning. This self-paced, conference won’t make you feel rushed, and you can go back and listen to talks again and again.