Trauma-Informed Practice

Trauma-Informed Practice

Background Information

You know what Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are and the impact they can have on adults physically, mentally, emotionally, and behaviourally. A trauma-informed practice means that you assume it’s possible that the person you are working with has experienced ACEs. Depending on your role, you may even complete assessments with people, in which case you will learn if they have a history of trauma. Other times, you may learn of ACEs through general conversations with people. It’s important that when you are learning about people’s histories, you think of ACEs and listen for them and when you are learning about people’s current experiences or seeing their behaviour, you understand what may be linked to a history of trauma.


Complete a PowerPoint consisting of 8-10 slides. Applying a trauma-informed perspective, review the case study below and provide the following information in your presentation:

  1. There are 10 primary childhood traumas measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal: physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death, or abandonment. Tip: You will need to know these 10 forms of trauma for Assignment 3. You can summarize them, but please put them in the order of the ACES questionnaire. For a refresher on ACES, visit the CDC ACES page.
  2. What are the Adverse Childhood Experiences Chantelle experienced in her youth?
  3. What behaviours, medical conditions and mental health issues is Chantelle experiencing as an adult that may be related to her ACEs?
  4. Who and/or what is currently a source of support for Chantelle? How might these supports benefit her?
  5. From a strengths-based perspective, what is going well for Chantelle as an adult?
  6. From a trauma-informed perspective, what supports/types of supports might Chantelle benefit from?
  7. If you were working with Chantelle, what would you keep in mind while interacting with her? What would you specifically do to support her?
  8. How can Chantelle help in preventing her daughter from experiencing her own Adverse Childhood Experiences?

Case Study

Chantelle is a 25-year-old female whose family immigrated to Calgary, Canada when she was two years old.

She is the youngest of three, with one older sister and one older brother.

She grew up living in various subsidized housing units with her parents and her siblings.

Her father had an addiction to alcohol for as long as she can remember. He drank most evenings after work. Her mother used to make the kids play outside, or keep quiet in their rooms in the evenings, so they wouldn’t disturb their father. If the kids were loud, their father would yell at them and become verbally abusive.

Her parents struggled financially, and this caused them to argue often and at times she saw her father physically assault her mother. Chantelle said she remembers feeling scared of her father most nights and that on a couple of occasions she almost called the police, but never did. When she would try to talk to her mom about it, her mom told her just to let it go. When she was ten years old, her father went to jail for six months for drunk driving. During this time, the family was relying on their church and community resources to pay rent and get food.

Chantelle recalls times that her mom wouldn’t leave her room for days at a time. When this happened, her aunt would come over and help with the kids. They didn’t talk about her mom’s condition at the time, but Chantelle later learned from her aunt that her mom had struggled with suicidal thoughts and now takes medication for her depression and anxiety.

Chantelle reports she struggled academically and barely finished high school. She recalls being bullied regularly in elementary school. She was often sick in the morning and as soon as she woke up, she felt anxiety and dread about going to school.

She began to smoke marijuana in grade eight and was smoking daily by grade nine. In grade nine she got a job at a fast-food restaurant and enjoyed the independence she felt with money. In grade 10, Chantelle also began to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes.

Chantelle says in her late teens she fell in with “the wrong crowd” and spent a lot of time “partying” although she always kept a job of some sort. At age 17 she moved in with a boyfriend who sold drugs. She reports that after a few months he became physically violent with her. After three years of abuse, at the age of 21, she moved out to live with her sister. Her father passed away that same year, and her mother moved back to their home country to care for her elderly parents.

At age 23, Chantelle decided to go to college to become a dental assistant. Her sister and brother-in-law co-signed student loans for her. She quit drinking and smoking marijuana. Soon after starting college, she moved in with her new boyfriend.  She was enjoying school and doing well, however, Chantelle became pregnant and left school two months before she graduated, right before she had her baby. She did not return to school after her daughter was born as childcare was too expensive and her student loans didn’t cover it. When her daughter was 8 months old, her boyfriend lost his job and began to drink regularly.

Chantelle experiences anxiety most days, is not sleeping well and is not eating proper meals. She went to her family doctor who told her she has Generalized Anxiety Disorder and recommended she see a counsellor. Her doctor is also concerned about her weight loss and has expressed concerns around the possibility she has an eating disorder.  Chantelle continues to smoke cigarettes and now that she is no longer breastfeeding, she has begun to abuse alcohol again.

Chantelle and her partner have been arguing frequently since he was laid off and Chantelle has become aggressive, even to the point of hitting her partner. During one argument the neighbours called child and family services, so they now have a case worker they meet with regularly. Although Chantelle is scared that she will lose her daughter, she trusts her caseworker and has been taking her advice and is willing to go to parenting classes. She wants her relationship to be healthy again and she wants to find a way to go back to school. Her case worker has identified one of her strengths to be her ability to set clear goals and to ask for support in reaching them. Recently Chantelle has re-connected with her brother, and her sister and brother-in-law often watch the baby for Chantelle when she is overwhelmed or needs a break.

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