The Administration for Children and Families, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations, the Administration for Community Living, the Offices of the Assistant Secretary for Health and the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at HHS have worked together to develop this Guide to Trauma-Informed Human Services. 

The guide is intended to provide an introduction to the topic of trauma, a discussion of why understanding and addressing trauma is important for human services programs, and a “road map” to find relevant resources.

Experiencing deeply disturbing events or situations (i.e., trauma) can affect the way a person learns, plans, and interacts with others. This can have profound implications for how human services agencies interact with their clients. Many individuals experience few problems after enduring a traumatic event. Some will have short term symptoms lasting a few days or weeks, but will recover quickly. A few will suffer longer term changes in mood, behavior, and how they interact with others and the world around them.

This guide provides human services leaders at the local, State, Tribal, and Territorial levels with information and resources on recent advances in our understanding of trauma, toxic stress, and executive functioning. It especially highlights what these advances mean for program design and service delivery. The guide helps professionals learn about trauma-informed care and helps those currently engaged in trauma-informed work to improve their practice.

These resources provide an overview of key concepts related to trauma and a guide to resources from a range of HHS federal agencies and respected sources outside government. These materials are both a “front door” to the topic of trauma and a “road map” to relevant resources.