Heart Rate Variability

The Future of Trauma-Informed Care

Heart Rate Variability


Publication date: 07/16/22

Format: Hardback, Paperback, Ebook, Audiobook

ISBN: 9798839912519


How do you quantify the mental, physical, social, and cognitive health of people and organizations?

Heart rate variability or HRV is the answer. HRV is a biometric that measures the differences in successive heartbeats. While simple, HRV provides an incredible amount of information on the health of our autonomic nervous system and brain.

In recent years, HRV variability monitors have become smaller and very affordable. A simple smartphone application takes the data from the monitors, applies algorithms, and provides users with accurate data on their mental, physical, social, and cognitive health and wellness. Heart Rate Variability explores how professionals and organizations can implement HRV to track the psychological, social, and physical health of those they serve, their staff, and the organization.

While those in any industry will benefit from this book, Heart Rate Variability contains chapters specific to organizations striving to integrate trauma-informed practices and research. HRV helps demonstrate the terrible impact of trauma. Without treatment and support, trauma devastates the brain and nervous system, making emotional regulation and insight difficult. More importantly, HRV tracks the trauma healing process or post-traumatic growth, building motivation as a person sees how their work and treatment are improving their health. HRV becomes a practical and powerful tool that, with proper implementation, helps change the lives of those struggling in our communities.

HRV improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the work of professionals and organizations by providing them with daily feedback on the people they are striving to help. Even before achieving a tangible traditional outcome or reaching a goal, a person will see progress through improving HRV scores over time. This success builds motivation and confidence to take on bigger and bigger life challenges. A drop in HRV scores alerts the professional to provide support and reach out earlier than they might normally. The alert and early action that HRV allows can prevent one bad day from cycling into larger, more dangerous issues such as suicide, relapse, or harming another.

Heart Rate Variability demonstrates how HRV will revolutionize how people and organizations approach self-care and staff wellness. The ability to create and maintain healthy working relationships with those in services is one of the most powerful predictors of successful outcomes. To accomplish this task for people with histories of abuse, neglect, and painful relationships takes a tremendous amount of compassion, empathy, and patience.

While the work of helping others is gratifying, social workers, teachers, mental-health workers, physicians, nurses, and other helping professionals dominate the top occupations for burnout in our society. Daily HRV measurements provide insight and focus on self-care. Before HRV, burnout was a relatively subjective measure. HRV quantifies burnout and demonstrates how self-care strategies improve wellness and performance.

Staff turnover and high levels of burnout make creating and maintaining a high-performing helping organization extremely difficult. HRV can provide organizations with a daily measure of the health and wellness of their staff, teams, and the entire organization. It provides a quantifiable answer to the question, “What is the organization’s health today?” Getting HRV measures from staff allows managers to support staff self-care and determine the effectiveness of organizational initiatives to improve staff health and lower turnover.

Most helping organizations operate in a marketplace with a scarcity of funding, resources, and staff capacity. HRV helps management ensure that the organization is positioning interventions and resources in the most effective way possible to improve the health and functioning of those they serve. Increases in efficiency and quality will help organizations create sustainability and show the effectiveness of service, helping to secure future funding.