The Traumatic Stress Institute fosters the transformation of organizations and service systems to trauma-informed care (TIC) through the delivery of whole-system consultation, professional training, coaching, and research.
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Why Trauma-Informed Care for Intellectual and Developmental Disability Organizations?

May 8, 2023 / by Steve Brown, PsyD

As ABA and IDD providers recognize the centrality of trauma in the lives of those they support, the natural next question is, “So what do we do about it?”In 2014, Dr. John Keesler, now a professor at Indiana University School of Social Work, published a journal article entitled, “A Call for Integration of Trauma-Informed Care Among Intellectual and Developmental Disability Organizations.” Seeing the explosive growth of trauma-informed care (TIC) in other sectors, Dr. Keesler – who started his career as a DSP – laid out the case for TIC in IDD organizations. Sadly, many don't know about this important article. Although published 10 years ago, Dr. Keesler’s article is as relevant today as as it was then. We owe John much gratitude for his visionary work.

Some of its main points are briefly summarized here, but I urge you to read it in full:

  • The article defines TIC as an organizational/system focused response to address the impact of trauma in the lives of individuals. It also recognizes that TIC addresses trauma’s impact on service providers.
  • It highlights the critical importance of DSPs and their need for more training about trauma and attention to help for the helper.
  • It outlines the 5 principles of TIC – safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment and their relevance to IDD organizations.
  • It reviews the effectiveness of TIC and some of the barriers to its implementation in IDD, such as the legacy of paternalism and demand for compliance.
  • It talks about the growing value in the IDD field placed on quality of life and person-centered practices which align well with TIC principles.

Read Dr. Keesler's Full Article

The Traumatic Stress Institute has partnered with John Keesler and other national IDD thought leaders to support IDD organizations in TIC system change. What we know is that TIC has the potential to increase staff retention, reduce restraints, reduce staff injuries, and increase individual and family satisfaction with services.

To promote conversations about this exciting work in the IDD sector, TSI will be hosting an informational webinar entitled Trauma-Assumed Behavior Analysis for People with IDD: From Trauma-Inducing to Trauma Reducing by Dr. Greg Hanley on May 16th from 3-4 p.m. ET. Despite unprecedented registration for the upcoming webinar, there is still some room

      Webinar Registration      

Tags: Whole-System Change, IDD Organizations

Steve Brown, PsyD

Written by Steve Brown, PsyD

Steve Brown, Psy.D., is the Director of the Traumatic Stress Institute of Klingberg Family Centers. A clinical psychologist, he is a primary architect of TSI’s internationally-recognized whole-system change process to trauma-informed care. He is a co-creator, with Dr. Courtney Baker, of the Attitudes Related to Trauma-Informed Care (ARTIC) Scale, one of the first psychometric measures of TIC. He trains professionals nationally on psychological trauma and trauma-informed care. In addition to being a psychologist, he is a long time sexuality educator/trainer and author of Streetwise to Sex-Wise: Sexuality Education for High Risk Youth, a sexuality education curricula used internationally by agencies and schools serving high-risk youth.