What is 'trauma informed approach and practice'?

What is 'trauma informed' approach and practice'?

This 7 minute briefing is an introduction to trauma informed approach and practice and is also available in PDF format: Download What is ‘trauma informed approach and practice’.

Trauma informed approach and practice means recognising:

  • how common traumatic stress is
  • potential impacts of trauma


  • acting to avoid people becoming ‘retraumatised’ or unnecessarily stressed by interacting with you or your service.

It may also mean reviewing/auditing your service and making changes to make your service accessible to those who struggle to trust professionals.

Without the right support, trauma/ACEs can have negative, lasting effects on physical health, mental health, and social outcomes.

Studies have shown a lack of supportive relationships links to an increased risk of:

  • disrupted nervous, hormonal and immune development
  • emotional and learning problems
  • engaging in health harming behaviour
  • being involved in violence
  • experiencing illness like diabetes, cancer or heart disease.

Studies carried out in England, Wales, and the USA consistently demonstrate that around 50% of the population has experienced at least one traumatic or stressful event in childhood.

Given trauma is common, many people struggle to trust professionals. To ensure people can access support there must be safety, trust, choice, collaboration and empowerment.

Everyone responds to trauma in their own way. Trauma can present as:

  • angry outbursts,
  • poor self-esteem,
  • distrusting,
  • anxious,
  • difficulty controlling emotions,
  • feelings of guilt/shame,
  • hyper-vigilance
  • perceived hostility in others.

Support from a trusted adult is key. Building resilience through protective factors like:

  • developing problem-solving skills
  • learning to manage emotions
  • creating a stable environment
  • developing hobbies and interests
  • are some ways to guard against the impact of trauma.

Trauma informed approach and practice is a broad model and can include trauma specific components and interventions.

We need a public health approach preventing and addressing the impact of childhood adversity.

We can and must:

  • Prevent trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)
  • Support child and family wellbeing/parenting
  • Detect and mitigate the impact of trauma/ACEs
  • Promote resilience across the life course.
  • Do I know how to identify ACEs/trauma?
  • Do I know how to support someone displaying signs of trauma?
  • Do I know where to signpost/refer people or families?
  • Do I show compassionate practice/trauma -informed practice in my work?
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