Dr. Weaver acknowledges that medical exams can feel invasive. They often involve asking sensitive questions, examining intimate body parts, and sometimes delivering uncomfortable treatments. A routine visit can be a terrifying experience for someone reminded of prior abuse by the perceived power differential between doctor and patient, being asked to remove clothing, or having invasive testing.
Knowing this, it is important that healthcare providers are mindful of the fact that many people who seek care may have a history of trauma and need trauma-informed care to feel comfortable. Trauma-informed care, used at Weaver Wellness Care, is defined as practices that promote a culture of safety, empowerment, and healing.
Trauma-informed care is newly being recognized as a critical way for health professionals to approach patients. It starts with recognizing how common trauma is and understanding that every patient may have experienced serious trauma. Doctors trained in trauma-informed care don’t need to question people about their experiences; rather, they assume that any patient may have this history and act accordingly.
Trauma-informed care takes many forms. At your next Weaver Well appointment you might notice that we:
- Explain why we ask sensitive questions
- Explain why we need to perform a physical exam, especially if it involves the breasts or genitals, and what will happen before doing starting
- Allow patients to have a trusted friend or family member in the exam room with them
- Vocalize to patients that we can stop the exam or treatment at any time if they are uncomfortable
- Respond to anxiety, fear, or refusals with compassion
- Work with patients, never attempting to force them, when providing health care
Patients may not volunteer information about their prior traumatic experiences. Therefore, we may ask, “Is there anything in your history that makes seeing a practitioner or having a physical examination difficult?” or “Is there anything I can do to make your visit and exam easier?”
At Weaver Wellness Care, trauma-informed care leads to more sensitive practices that help develop trusted relationships between doctor and patient.
Dr. Weaver encourages patients to advocate for themselves by explaining their anxiety about medical visits or what they have found helpful or harmful in prior healthcare encounters. Her compassionate approach to patients and willingness to tailor exams or treatments can help those with fear, reluctance, or discomfort to get the care they need, regardless of the reason for those feelings.