Mariam Cheema

I am an aspiring Clinical Psychologist with experience as an Assistant Psychologist across two specialised services: Bristol Specialist Drug and Alcohol Service and Hope: Asylum-seeker & Refugee Trauma service (Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust). I am currently a Research Practitioner working with Autistic Adults. I hold a BSc Hons Psychology degree from the University of the West of England and MSc in Children’s Psychological Disorders from Cardiff University. My current interests include the co-morbidity of traumatic experiences and substance use and treatment for PTSD and depression.

Trauma-informed spaces in substance use services

Background: Clinical experience suggests there is a high rate of trauma exposure in individuals who use alcohol and other drugs. Trauma-informed care (TIC) aims to Realise the impact of Trauma, Recognise the signs and symptoms, Respond by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures and practices and Resist re-traumatisation. The physical environment is important to consider as research has shown it impacts both service user interaction with the service and staff wellbeing. Thus, there is a need for research to evaluate whether treatment services’ physical spaces are aligned with the key principles of trauma informed practice; Safety, Trust, Empowerment, Choice and Collaboration.

Method: Opportunity sampling was used to recruit 36 participants (24 service users, 1 carer and 11 staff members). Mixed-methods questionnaires were used consisting of a 7-point Likert scale and open-ended questions. The data was analysed in Excel using descriptive statistics.

Results: Staff mean scores suggested improvements could be made to the meeting rooms and office space. Service users viewed the spaces more positively than the staff anticipated. The qualitative responses were used to create recommendations for improvement.

Conclusions: This small scale project demonstrates a quick and easy way to collaboratively evaluate treatment services’ physical spaces.