Using a Trauma Informed Approach When Working with Inmates

Considering the correctional facility environment, it is probable that inmates have encountered some form of trauma. Trauma occurs when a person has experienced a situation that results in harm. Harm can occur in different forms, to include physical and/or emotional. Below are tips on interacting with an inmate using a trauma informed approach:  

  • Individualization – no two people are the same and no two brain injuries are the same. Ensure you are tailoring your interactions to each person’s unique needs and circumstances. 
  • Timing – take time for breaks as needed. Overstimulation, taking time to process, and fatigue are some of the many symptoms an individual with a brain injury may be experiencing. This may result in needing extra or extended breaks to improve their functioning.  
  • Level – work with the individual with where they are currently.  
  • Language – Use language that the person is using so they have a better opportunity to understand what is being said.  
  • Person centered – think of the person you are working with as the individual that they are and not the circumstances that have led them to this point.   
  • Connection – try to connect with the individual on some level to earn trust and respect.  
  • Adapt – adjust your approach when interacting with each individual. Recognize that every person is unique in their identity and actions, and adapt your methods to best suit their responses.