A service provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control



Home / Resources / STI Updates (Blog) / Current practice / Special Feature Series: Trauma Informed Care

Special Feature Series: Trauma Informed Care

Setting the context

In November 2012, the BCCDC Outreach Nursing Program hosted two workshops on Trauma Informed Care. The workshops explored the topics of trauma and its relationship to addiction, HIV and STIs. Thanks to our community partnerships, we were able to bring Elizabeth Vermilyea, from Traumatic Stress Recovery Consulting, to British Columbia.  

We were amazed at the level of interest in this topic amongst health providers working throughout British Columbia. Over 100 people attended the workshops: social workers, nurses, physicians, community service providers, researchers, managers, students, instructors and counsellors. The feedback about the workshops was very positive:

This was the most worthwhile training I have ever had.
Best workshop I have been to in the past 10 years. Should be part of the core training for STI/HIV providers.
An extremely valuable workshop both personally and professionally. Love having the reading list, theoretical frameworks to incorporate.
This was a treat. I hope more workshops like this will be available.

A feature series

The workshop evaluations were so full of enthusiasm, we thought “why not a regular blog series on this topic?”.  This will provide an excellent opportunity to continue offering more information on trauma informed care, interventions for practitioners, self care for providers, and contributions from guest writers.  You, as readers, are invited to comment, suggest topics, discuss ideas and generally keep us on the right track.


We consider trauma informed care to be very relevant to sexual health, as numerous studies in British Columbia, Canada and internationally have demonstrated correlations between adverse childhood events and addiction or high risk behaviour in later life. Many of these studies have pointed to the correlations between trauma, addictive behaviours and STI/HIV prevalence. 1,2,3,4 

Nurses, physicians and other health professionals are rarely provided any training to understand the mechanisms by which trauma manifests in the body and how the resulting coping behaviors develop.

Knowledge of how trauma manifests in the human being will create more competent, kinder and effective health care provision.

Our hope is that providing more effective HIV/STI prevention services in clinics, correctional facilities, street outreach, community agencies and drop-ins will result in increased access to care for clients, greater work satisfaction for health service providers, and an overall improvement in prevention efforts, especially for marginalized and vulnerable clients.

Stay tuned for the first installment of this feature series – coming in April!     

                                         I would love to live
                                          Like a river flows,
                                      Carried by the surprise
                                        Of its own unfolding.

                              (Conamara Blues, John O’Donohue)                                                   


  1. Cedar Project, P., Pearce, M. E., Christian, W. M., Patterson, K., Norris, K., Moniruzzaman, A., et al. (2008). The Cedar Project: historical trauma, sexual abuse and HIV risk among young Aboriginal people who use injection and non-injection drugs in two Canadian cities. Soc Sci Med, 66(11), 2185-2194.)
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/ace/prevalence.htm#ACED
  3. Heath KV, Cornelisse PG, Strathdee SA, Palepu A, Miller ML, Schechter MT, O’Shaughnessy MV, Hogg RS. HIV-associated risk factors among young Canadian Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal men who have sex with men. Int J STD AIDS. 1999 Sep; 10(9):582-7.
  4. Braitstein P, Asselin JJ, Schilder A, Miller ML, Laliberté N, Schechter MT, Hogg RS. Sexual violence among two populations of men at high risk of HIV infection. AIDS Care. 2006 Oct; 18(7):681-9