Language Shapes Our Lives
As an organization focused on helping people in many different ways Lakeview Center pays close attention to what we say. We understand the importance of words in creating perceptions and feelings of others. In the work of helping people with addictions, mental illness and disabilities, we are careful to use person-first, trauma informed language. Our goal is to avoid sounding punitive or derogatory toward someone who has been brave enough to seek help. We want to create an environment of benevolence and acceptance.
Examples of language that does not perpetuate discrimination or label a person:
Stigmatizing Terms Strength-based Words that Promote Recovery
Addict Person experiencing substance abuse
Disabled Person with a disability
Client Person served
Mentally ill Person experiencing mental illness
History of illness Life experience
Cure Recovery path
Resisted Chose not to
Decompensate Experiencing an increase in symptoms
Manipulative Seeking alternate means of meeting needs
Suffering from Has a history of
Low functioning Has difficulty with
We seek to make people feel better, survive trauma and find pathways to recovery. What we say and how we say it makes an impact of the quality of service we provide.
Everyone can practice person-first trauma informed communication. Start by being aware of what you say and avoid language that could potentially make a person feel “less than.” The practice can improve your work, family and community relationships.
One of the most important things all of us can focus on every day is what we say to everyone we meet. Language shapes our lives. It can bring us closer to people or distance us from them. Making wise, compassionate choices will ensure the latter.