Effective Trauma-Informed communication, regardless of your role as a therapist or a coach involves more than just speaking or writing well. Here are the 5 basic skills of an effective communicator:
1 | Listening:
Effective communicators actively listen to others, pay attention to what they say, and show interest in their thoughts and feelings. They use nonverbal cues such as nodding and eye contact to show they are engaged in the conversation. True listening requires that:
- a. We are fully present, not carrying on multiple internal dialogues with ourselves.
- b. We are curious and tend to expand on competencies possessed, rather than on problems and deficits.
2 | Clarity:
Effective communicators articulate their thoughts clearly and concisely. They avoid using jargon or technical language that may confuse their audience. They organize their message logically and use examples to make their point.
- a. Think before you speak. Let the client finish their thoughts without your interruption or assumption that you know where they are going with what they are saying.
- b. Speak to the level of your client’s language skills
- c. Relate all of your examples to significant and relevant aspects of the client’s learning history.
3 | Empathy:
Effective communicators put themselves in the shoes of their audience and consider how their message might be received. They acknowledge the feelings of others and show respect for their perspective. Empathy is terrific, but if you are looking at empathy as a learned behavior, empathy is much less powerful than attunement.
- a. Empathy is like elementary school, and attunement is like graduation from college. Always strive for the higher and more useful aspects of empathy which is attuning to your client.
- b. Remember that empathy as discussed in the mental health world is about understanding and feeling another’s emotions. What we are encouraging is a broader more tactically useful understanding of how human beings function biologically, mentally, spiritually, behaviorally, and also emotionally.
4 | Confidence:
Effective communicators convey confidence in their message through their tone of voice, body language, and word choice. They are not afraid to speak up or take a leadership role in a conversation. They have confidence because they are already living the life they are encouraging for their clients.
5 | Flexibility:
Effective communicators adjust their message to suit their audience and the context of the conversation. They are able to switch between different communication styles depending on the situation, whether it is formal or informal, or whether they are speaking to a group or an individual. Communication is intentional and deliberate.
A salutogenic approach to communication focuses on promoting health and well-being, rather than simply treating illness or problems. Here are some reasons why someone might choose to use a salutogenic approach to communication:
- Positive focus: A salutogenic approach to communication emphasizes positive aspects of a person’s life, such as their strengths, resources, and resilience. This can help to build confidence and motivation and encourage people to make positive changes in their lives.
- Collaborative approach: A salutogenic approach to communication involves working together with others to identify and address challenges. This can foster a sense of connection and community, and help to build trust and empathy.
- Empowerment: A salutogenic approach to communication focuses on empowering people to take control of their own health and well-being. This can involve providing information, skills, and resources that people can use to make informed decisions and take positive action.
- Holistic perspective: A salutogenic approach to communication considers the whole person, including their physical, emotional, and social well-being. This can help to identify underlying causes of problems and address them in a comprehensive and integrated way.
Overall, a salutogenic approach to communication can help to promote positive health and well-being and encourage people to take an active role in managing their own physical and mental health.
Dr. Robert Rhoton, CEO of Arizona Trauma Institute and President at the Trauma Institute International possesses a rich history of experience in the mental health field and works internationally with organizations to improve the delivery of trauma treatment services.