Trauma-Informed Care

A cornerstone of addressing women’s homelessness.

Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) is a service approach that acknowledges the widespread, long-term impacts of trauma; understands signs and symptoms of trauma; and responds by integrating knowledge about trauma into all policies and practices. A simple approach with substantial benefits, TIC improves both emergency and permanent services, reducing costs and leading to stronger short- and long-term outcomes overall.

A trauma-informed approach to service provision is particularly effective for women experiencing homelessness, given their higher likelihood to have experienced violence. More than 53% of women surveyed in the DWC 2019 Los Angeles City Women’s Needs Assessment reported having survived domestic or interpersonal violence at some point during their lifetimes, experiences that are compounded by the trauma of homelessness.


“What happened to you?”
“What do you need to get better?”


“What’s wrong with you?”
“Why can’t you get better?”

The Four "R"s of TIC


the widespread impact of trauma and understand potential paths for healing.


the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system.


by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices.


the widespread impact of trauma and understand potential paths for healing.

At DWC, we know that TIC is a necessary standard in ensuring women’s unique service needs are met in both women-specific and mixed-gender settings. In addition to practicing this approach across all our programs and services, DWC provides TIC trainings to a variety of service providers and public departments that interface with individuals experiencing homelessness across Los Angeles, such as the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Library, and the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.

In 2015, our Trauma Recovery Center was launched in partnership with Peace Over Violence and with funding from the California Victims Compensation Board. At the center, women with histories and experiences of trauma are able to attend individual and group therapy, receive psychiatric and medication services and assessments, and obtain referrals to trauma services. Our center seeks to end the cycle of re-traumatization for women experiencing homelessness, by providing the kind of individualized trauma-informed care that is shown to improve immediate and long-term housing, wellness, and employment outcomes alike.

We are guided by the six principles of TIC:


Safety – Throughout the organization, staff and the people they serve feel physically and psychologically safe.


Trustworthiness & transparency – Organizational operations and decisions are conducted with transparency and the goal of building and maintaining trust among staff, participants, and family members of those receiving services.


Peer support & mutual self-help – These are integral to the organizational and service delivery approach and are understood as a key vehicle for building trust, establishing safety, and empowerment.


Collaboration & mutuality – There is true partnering and leveling of power differences between staff and clients, and between direct care staff and administrators. There is recognition that healing happens in relationships and in the meaningful sharing of power and decision-making. The organization recognizes that everyone has a role to play in a trauma-informed approach. One does not have to be a therapist to be therapeutic.


Empowerment, voice, & choice – Throughout the organization and among the participants served, individuals’ strengths are recognized, built on, and validated, and new skills developed as necessary.


Cultural, historical, & gender issues – The organization actively moves past cultural stereotypes and biases, offers gender responsive services, leverages the healing value of traditional cultural connections, and recognizes and addresses historical trauma.

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