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Trauma Informed Care

January is often a time that we turn over a new leaf. “Out with the old” goes the adage.  For many of us we cannot simply do away with the past. There may be adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) such as abuse that continue to surface and threaten our mental health.  There may be other traumas such as intimate partner violence or microaggressions based on our race, gender or other facets of our identity.  

These traumas not only affect our mental but also our physical health. In her book, The Deepest Well, Nadine Burke Harris provides compelling evidence that past trauma is associated with rates of chronic disease and also with cancer risk. Bessel van der Lollk also notes in the book, The Body Keeps the Score, that trauma impacts many elements of our physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

Many practitioners now practice counselling or care that is termed “Trauma Informed Care.”  This is essentially reminding ourselves that what happened to us is a big part of our health and our behaviour. One cannot treat the present without keeping in mind what happened in the past. We all have a right to be seen, to secure, to be safe and to be soothed.  

If you feel that a past adverse experience is impacting your health or holding you back in some way, reach out. Your primary care practitioner is a good place to begin. Mental health is very much in the realm of most of our awareness as primary care practitioners. The new year is a good time to move on and turn a new leaf but only after naming the emotions and attending to the past.

Dr. Bhooma Bhayana is a family physician in London and the mother of two young men and grandmother of one lovely princess! She continues to find wonder and enjoyment in family practice despite more than 30 years on the job!


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