The Sanctuary Model


The Sanctuary Model of Trauma Informed Care

New Life Youth & Family Services has begun the process of implementing the Sanctuary Model of Trauma Informed Care.

The Sanctuary Model promotes change in an organization and addresses the ways in which trauma, adversity and chronic stress influence individual behavior, including the lives of children in placement, as well as recognizes the ways in which whole organizations can be influenced by trauma, adversity and chronic stress.


Sanctuary is a treatment and organizational change model that integrates trauma theory with the creation of therapeutic communities which then provides safety for both clients and the staff who work with them.

Evidenced based data has shown that organizations that have adopted the Sanctuary Model have been able to:

  • Decrease the implementation of restraints
  • Decrease staff turnover
  • Improve the outcomes of youth in placement

The philosophical structure of the Sanctuary Model is reflected in seven simple commitments. These Commitments apply to the entire community, staff, administrators and clients.

The Sanctuary commitments are:

  • Nonviolence – being safe outside (physically), inside (emotionally), with others (social) and to do the right thing (moral).
  • Emotional Intelligence – managing our feelings so that we don’t hurt ourselves or others.
  • Social Learning – respecting and sharing the ideas of our teams.
  • Open Communication – saying what we mean and not being mean when we say it.
  • Social Responsibility – together we accomplish more; everyone makes a contribution to the organizational culture.
  • Democracy – shared decision making.
  • Growth and Change – creating hope for our clients and ourselves.

Sanctuary gives us a shared language and framework for communicating with everyone in the community.

SELF stands for Safety, Emotions, Loss and Future.
By focusing on four very simple components, SELF frames our conversations and allows us to touch on the very complicated issues our clients and communities face using a very simple framework.


It is the goal of New Life will be able to be reviewed to obtain certification by September of 2014.
There are four elements that make up the basic three year implementation process:
Evaluation – (formal diagnostic and certification evaluations and informal
self evaluations)
Training – (staff training, orientation and boosters for staff and psycho-
education for clients and families)
Planning – (core team meetings, steering committee meetings and
execution of tasks that reinforce the seven commitments)
Practice – (use of the tools and concepts in the community)


The FIRST YEAR of the implementation process involves Engaging. This period centers on training, planning and initial practice in using tools through the Core Team and sub-committees.
The SECOND YEAR centers on Embedding–adopting all policies and practices to align with Sanctuary. This period focuses on operationalizing the Seven Commitments and the S.E.L.F concept. This period involves continued planning with increased emphasis on practice. At the end of the second year, informal, in-house evaluations of our Community will begin.

The THIRD YEAR will be the period that New Life will measure our progress against the Sanctuary Implementation Standards. The primary focus is on planning through Core Team and sub-committee work as well as evaluation in formal and informal ways and continued practice with the tools and concepts.


The Certification standards were developed by the Sanctuary Institute in collaboration with Dr. Sandra Bloom as a way of measuring adherence and fidelity to the practices and philosophy of the Sanctuary Model in human service organizations.

Achieving certification is contingent upon satisfactory implementation of the model. Evaluation of the model is organized along the four pillars of Sanctuary: Trauma Theory, the S.E.L.F framework, the 7 Commitments and the Sanctuary Toolbox.

Agencies that meet the standards can expect to experience

  • improved treatment outcomes
  • enhanced staff communication
  • reductions in violence
  • increased job satisfaction
  • improvements in the areas of nonviolence, emotional intelligence, social learning, open communication, shared governance, social responsibility, and growth and change

When an organization becomes a Certified Sanctuary Organization, there is an agreement that each organization will maintain the practice of a trauma informed environment in accordance with the tenants of Sanctuary Model, utilize the SELF framework for Sanctuary practice, maintain Sanctuary training and trauma-informed clinical treatment.
New Life is anxiously anticipating becoming a Certified Sanctuary Organization that will follow and maintain the certification standards and all certification mandates.

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