womans holding hands together in a meeting

The Importance of Trauma-Informed 12-Step Meetings

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Within the recovery community, 12-Step meetings are widely considered helpful for most people in maintaining their recovery from addiction. They offer the opportunity for community and strength from those with similar situations, as well as a chance to learn from and give back to one another. However, for people who are healing from both trauma and addiction, finding 12-Step meetings that are trauma-informed is crucial. For some people, particularly for many women, traditional 12-Step meetings may trigger their past trauma, causing further harming to their healing process. 

What Exactly Does Trauma-Informed Mean?

Many organizations and facilities will claim that they are trauma-informed. However, few actually practice the basic principles of trauma-informed care. Care that is built around the five major principles- safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness, and empowerment- is care that creates a healing environment for women or others who have suffered trauma.

Below are the principles of trauma-informed care related to 12-Step meetings and what you can look for when you seek these specific types of meetings.

• Safety - Feeling safe is vital for anyone, especially when attending a 12-Step meeting. However, for women who have experienced trauma, safety has an additional set of criteria. Many 12-Step meetings have more men than women. Women who have experienced trauma related to men being emotionally, physically or sexually assaulted may not feel safe attending even if those meetings are 100% secure.

One of the critical issues with trauma is that it can be triggered in even the slightest of ways. Even if the goal is to heal from the trauma, that cannot happen without first feeling safe. Regarding 12-Step meetings, a woman needs to feel safe within the venue, with the people attending, the format and structure of the meeting, and more. Offering meetings that feel safe for women who have experienced trauma allows them to maintain their recovery without triggering their past experiences.

• Choice - One of the symptoms of trauma is feeling like you do not have control over your life, your body, or your situation. To heal, you need the opportunity to make choices. Meetings that are too rigid or structured can feel stifling, confining, or even trigger someone with trauma. Women who have suffered trauma need the opportunity to be offered transparency in their care as well as the chance to make their own decisions. This includes choices within 12-Step meetings, which will allow them to feel like they have some kind of control in their support process.

• Collaboration - Trauma can create a sense of isolation, and make it difficult for you to socialize with others. Often there is a sense of powerlessness involved in trauma that is based on a perceived or actual social structure. When attending a 12-step meeting, someone with a traumatic past needs to feel like they are on equal footing with others and have as much say in their process as possible. Meetings should feel both welcoming and collaborative to provide the most benefit for someone who has both experienced trauma and is in recovery.

• Trustworthiness - Trust can be a very difficult belief to repair after trauma. Offering a 12-Step meeting with trauma-informed care should focus on carefully building trustworthiness amongst those attending the meetings. Combining with the principles of safety, choice, and collaboration, building trust is essential for healing. Meetings need to offer and emphasize confidentiality and address any questions of trust immediately in order to continue being effective for those who have experienced trauma.

• Empowerment - Women who have experienced trauma need to feel empowered in their healing process. This process can feel like stepping out of the darkness into the light. While much of this can occur within treatment for addiction, the healing of trauma offers even more opportunities for empowerment. In 12-Step meetings, this can mean offering women a chance to share, lead, grow, and give back, but also needs to be offered as they are prepared. Women healing from trauma can empower one another by their examples when they are offered a properly trauma-informed environment.

Creating Trauma-Informed Community and Support

When trauma-informed care is combined with the virtues of 12-Step meetings, the opportunities to create community and support are endless. Women who have survived trauma have the capacity to understand one another and offer the exact type of support they need. Creating a safe space for women to share their recovery process within a trauma-informed environment helps them to feel less isolated, safe, strong, and empowered. Offering trauma-informed 12-Step meetings can be truly healing for women in recovery.

Finding the proper 12-Step meeting for you is always important, even more so when you have experienced trauma. The benefits of attending trauma-informed 12-Step meetings extend beyond just staying sober as they offer deep and lasting healing from both trauma and addiction. The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women knows that trauma-informed 12-Step meetings are essential to women in recovery. Our programs were developed to provide a safe, loving, non-judgmental environment for healing from addiction. We focus on healing the mind, body, and spirit, especially from past trauma, for complete and wholistic healing. Our goal is for you always to feel safe, have choices, collaborate in your process, and feel trust and empowerment in your care. Call us at (714) 581-3974 today to learn more about our trauma-informed care. At The Ho Tai Way, we know that you already have the tools inside you to achieve sobriety. We will teach you how to access these tools.