CARF Standards for Abuse, Neglect, and Trauma Assessment

The September-October 2013 newsletter of Behavioral Health Resources, LLC focuses on CARF standards for documenting history of trauma during the assessment process.

As indicated in Section 2.B of the 2013 BH/CYS*/OTP Standards Manuals, the assessment process should gather and record information about the person’s history of trauma that is experienced and witnessed, and include abuse, neglect, violence, and sexual assault.  (*Standards in the CYS manual do not include sexual assault.)

Sad Girl - head and shouldersA trauma history is more than basic questions such as, “Have you ever been emotionally, physically, or sexually abused?”  What constitutes an adequate basic trauma assessment?   This would include adverse life experiences as well as traumatic events.  Examples include:  transportation accidents (e.g., car, airplane); natural disasters (e.g., tornado, earthquake); crimes (e.g., robbery); exposure to dangerous chemicals; life-threatening illness; death of a loved one; and many more.

Click here to obtain a good example of a brief Trauma History Questionnaire that is available from the Georgetown University Medical Center (provided as a Word document).  Their website also includes Tool Kits for the trauma assessment published in Spanish and other useful assessment tools.

Trauma-Informed Services

The following information was obtained from SAMHSA.

What is Trauma-Informed Care?   Most individuals seeking public behavioral health services and many other public services, such as homeless and domestic violence services, have histories of physical and sexual abuse and other types of trauma-inducing experiences.  These experiences often lead to mental health and co-occurring disorders such as chronic health conditions, substance abuse, eating disorders, and HIV/AIDS, as well as contact with the criminal justice system.

When a human service program takes the step to become trauma-informed, every part of its organization, management, and service delivery system is assessed and potentially modified to include a basic understanding of how trauma affects the life of an individual seeking services.  Trauma-informed organizations, programs, and services are based on an understanding of the vulnerabilities or triggers of trauma survivors that traditional service delivery approaches may exacerbate, so that these services and programs can be more supportive and avoid re-traumatization.

What are Trauma-Specific Interventions?   Trauma-specific interventions are designed specifically to address the consequences of trauma in the individual and to facilitate healing.  Treatment programs generally recognize the following:

  • The survivor’s need to be respected, informed, connected, and hopeful regarding their own recovery
  • The interrelation between trauma and symptoms of trauma (e.g., substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety)
  • The need to work in a collaborative way with survivors, family and friends of the survivor, and other human services agencies in a manner that will empower survivors and consumers


Consultants at Behavioral Health Resources, LLC do not represent CARF.

© 2013 Behavioral Health Resources, LLC. All rights reserved.

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