Navigating Transitions with CHV’s Trauma-Informed Approach

Relocating is a significant life event that can evoke many emotions and challenges, especially for young people who have experienced trauma and homelessness. With the renovations of our Pender Street building (home to our Rights of Passage program) in progress, and young people from that program in the process of packing to move in, every transition is approached with sensitivity, empathy, and a deep understanding of the impact that trauma can have on individuals.

Being aware of the impact that trauma can have, CHV implements strategies that are genuinely supportive and help youth transition into their new living spaces.

Darcie, seasoned Team Leader in the Rights of Passage program, understands the complexities of guiding young individuals through these transitions. Having worked extensively with youth at various stages of their journeys, Darcie is very aware of the impact that the disruptive nature of moving can have, particularly for those who have experienced displacement and instability.

She says, “Different youth have different traumas, and some might be related to moving around a lot, such as being displaced, and moving to many different homes, which may include group homes. So, moving can be very disruptive to the lives of young people, which can cause a lot of emotional distress.”

Recognizing that each young person’s experience is unique, we use a trauma-informed lens in our approach to moving, which means that the move is tailored to meet each individual’s specific needs. We believe in a one-size-fits-one approach, which involves comprehensive assessments to understand individual traumas, triggers, and coping mechanisms. Collaborating closely with mental health professionals, we devise personalized support plans that address emotional, social, and psychological well-being.

One of the key elements of our approach is establishing a safe and predictable environment to mitigate anxiety and fear. Consistency in routines and expectations, coupled with open discussions about moving plans, fosters a sense of security and control for the youth. Practical steps, such as providing moving documents, offering reminders to declutter belongings, and supplying sturdy packing materials, ensure that the process is as smooth and dignified as possible.

Moreover, our commitment to empowering young individuals extends to decisions about their living arrangements. By involving them in discussions and incorporating their preferences, such as the design of communal spaces and amenities, before the renovations began, we reaffirm their sense of agency and control. This intentional involvement serves as a powerful antidote to the erosion of agency that is often experienced in the face of past traumas.

At CHV, we celebrate every move as a step towards positive change and growth. Our new spaces are carefully designed to resemble communal living environments that foster a sense of community and belonging. Excitement has been filling the air as youth get ready to move back into the Rights of Passage building and anticipate the amenities like a community lounge area, a state-of-the-art fitness room, communal patio and BBQ areas, a teaching kitchen, and all of the opportunities that await them in their new residences.

In essence, moving back to this newly renovated building is not just about changing locations, it’s about supporting young people on their journeys to healing, stability, and independence. By approaching transitions with sensitivity, empathy, and a commitment to empowerment, we strive to make every move a step towards a brighter future for the youth we serve.