Let new members know that it’s normal to feel anxious, uncertain, and insecure when entering a residential treatment program.
Acknowledge how difficult it can be to transition into a new setting.
Let members know what they should do and whom they should talk to if they feel unsafe.
Use trauma-informed approaches when searching the member’s items. For example, explain which items would be considered unsafe, such as weapons, lighters, and so on, and allow the person to show you their belongings rather than initiating a search.
Ask members what would help them to feel safe (such as sleeping with the lights on). Document their responses in their chart and ensure that all team members are aware of them. Then work as a team with the person to incorporate their requests to the degree possible.
Give members a key to their rooms and ensure that they understand who has access to their room and the reasons staff may enter. Let them know if they will have roommates, and, if so, how many.
Tell members about the systems and practices in place to protect their safety.
Teach all staff about trauma so they understand how toxic stress and trauma may affect behavior.
Train staff on principles of healing-centered engagement and the importance of the community in the healing process.
Ensure that staff know how to minimize saying or doing anything that might re-traumatize members or trigger symptoms of preexisting trauma.
Train staff to identify situations in which members may need to be referred for stabilization or trauma-specific treatment.
Teach staff grounding exercises and other methods to help individuals stabilize.
Support staff in exercising and modeling healthy self-care and appropriate boundaries in their interactions with the people they serve.