Examples of Agency and Systemic Trauma-Informed Approaches

Example 1 - The Sanctuary Model

The Sanctuary Model® is an organizational culture intervention that focuses on changing or supporting the culture of organizations to be trauma-informed.  Both staff and clients are key decision makers and work together to create a democratic and non-violent culture where everyone is safe. While it began in the mental health sector, the model is now used in many service sectors including substance use programs, shelters and group homes 1. Described as “a template for changing social service delivery systems,1” The Sanctuary Model® does not promote a set of intervention techniques. Instead, it incorporates the concepts of therapeutic community, non-violence and social morality to create a trauma-informed culture in which healing can take place. That culture is described by as follows2:

  • Culture of Nonviolence
  • Culture of Emotional Intelligence
  • Culture of Social Learning
  • Culture of Shared Governance
  • Culture of Open Communication
  • Culture of Social Responsibility
  • Culture of Growth and Change

Example 2 -Client Involvement in Service Delivery: Consumer/Survivor/Recovering Women: A Guide for Partnership in Collaboration

Some innovative ways that organizations and programs have incorporated more client involvement in services include:

  • providing women with comprehensive information and opportunities for discussion about their service options and allowing them to direct their own treatment;
  • offering leadership training or peer support training to women in order to support the development of the skills to increase their participation in service delivery;
  • conducting focus groups with participants that inform program development and organizational decisions; and,
  • posting a Client Bill of Rights

During the Women, Co-occurring Disorders and Violence study, researchers and service providers prepared a guidebook on partnership with women who describe themselves as consumers/survivors and/or recovering. Consumer/Survivor/Recovering Women: a Guide for Partnership in Collaboration was developed on the premise that integration and partnership in service delivery with women who have used services in the past will improve outcomes for both consumers and organizational environments 3. This guide provides a range of strategies for including women with lived experiences in all levels of service delivery and describes the ways that such shifts in power relationships between women and institutions can serve to promote self-esteem, healing and skill development.

Example 3 -Trauma-Informed Practice (TIP) Guide and TIP Organizational Checklist

The Trauma-Informed Practice (TIP) Guide and TIP Organizational Checklist are intended to support the translation of trauma-informed principles into practice. Included are concrete strategies to guide the professional work of practitioners assisting clients with mental health and substance use (MHSU) concerns in British Columbia.

The TIP Guide is based on:

  • findings from current literature;
  • lessons learned from implementation in other jurisdictions;
  • and, ideas offered by practitioners who participated in focus groups and interviews in 2011 in each of the BC Health Regions.


  1. Bloom, S.L., et al., Multiple opportunities for creating sanctuary. Psychiatric Quarterly, 2003. 74(2): p. 173-190.
  2. Bloom, S.L. and S. Yanosy Sreedhar, The Sanctuary Model of trauma-informed organizational change. Reclaiming Children & Youth, 2008. 17(3): p. 48-53.
  3. Prescott, L., Consumer/survivor/secovering women: A guides for partnerships in collaboration, in Women, Co-occurring Disorders and Violence Study Coordinating Center2001, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.


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