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Trauma Informed Practice

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What is Psychological Trauma?



Image from National Trauma Transformation Programme

"Individual trauma results from an event, a series of events or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has long lasting effects on the individual's functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional or spiritual wellbeing"

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSA) (2014)


Trauma can impact our ability to feel safe in relationships, to manage strong emotions, and to view ourselves as worthwhile. Many settings can inadvertently provoke strong reminders of the trauma we experienced. For these reasons, and many more, trauma can create barriers to engaging with services and opportunities in life.

Traumatic experiences affect most people at some stage in life, yet we often won't know about people's experiences, and the impact of trauma is unique to each of us. Evidence shows trauma is associated with poorer outcomes across a wide range of areas including preventable disease, mental health, education, and social outcomes.

Find out more about the prevalence and impact of trauma here: Evidence - National Trauma Transformation Programme

Adversity is not destiny

To talk of trauma without reference to resilience is to tell only half the story. Adversity is not destiny. With the right support, protective factors and healthy, trusting relationships, people can and do overcome the most traumatic experiences. People survive and can thrive despite, or even because of, their trauma. 

Trauma and Recovery

  • Most people have experienced a traumatic event or situation in their lives. Anyone can be affected by trauma.
  • Many people will have support in place through family, friends and their community which can significantly 'buffer' the impact of trauma and help them recover.
  • Relationships that offer safety, trust, choice, empowerment and control help people recover from traumatic events, foster resilience and can even help the person experience positive growth.




Scotland's Ambition

"A trauma informed and responsive nation that is capable of recognising where people are affected by trauma and adversity, that is able to respond in ways that prevent further harm, support recovery, address inequalities and improve life chances"

(NES & ScotGov, 2019).

Everyone has a role to play in understanding and responding to people affected by trauma. This does not mean that everyone needs to be a trauma expert - but it does mean that all workers, in the context and remit of their work role, have a unique and essential trauma informed role to play in responding to people who are affected by trauma. 


Practice Level definitions


Image from Transforming Psychological Trauma: Knowledge and Skills Framework 2017


Click below to find out more about NTTP (National Trauma Transformation Programme) learning resources at each practice level. 

National Trauma Transformation Programme


Trauma informed organisations

Trauma informed and responsive practice can only happen in the context of trauma informed and responsive environments, policies, systems, and organisations. No matter how trauma informed individual employees may be, if we are constrained by protocols or policies that do not recognise the impact of trauma we may be unable to minimise the risk of re-traumatisation that our training has taught us to recognise. Organisational support and managerial buy-in is central for workers to translate the training they receive into practice.

The National Trauma Transformation Programme has published a Roadmap to help services and organisations identify and reflect on progress, strengths and opportunities for embedding a trauma informed and responsive approach across policy and practice. 

Implementation - National Trauma Transformation Programme


Additional resources


  • Children and young people

Resources (

Childhood Trauma and the Brain - UK Trauma Council

Resources - UK Trauma Council

Understanding child brain development | NSPCC Learning

Helping Children Cope With Trauma (

  • Lived experience & co production 

Scottish Co-production Network (

  • Trauma in the workplace

Helping staff to cope with trauma - Mental Health At Work

Self-care Tools | ProQOL

Psychological first aid: Guide for field workers (



The Window of Tolerance (

JetBrains IDEs - 80sec (

Brené Brown on Empathy vs Sympathy (

Trauma and the Brain (

How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime | Nadine Burke Harris | TED (

Good relationships are the key to healing trauma | Karen Treisman | TEDxWarwickSalon (


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