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SOCW6215 Walden Applying Trauma-Informed Principles to a Social Work Practice Setting With Children and Families

Trauma-informed practice goes beyond the skills and techniques used by an individual social worker. Organizations and communities can unintentionally retraumatize clients through their policies and procedures. Social workers have a responsibility to advocate for change.

In this Assignment, you use the knowledge you have gained about trauma-informed practice to evaluate the organizational and operational structure of a setting with which you are familiar. You also make recommendations for changes needed to apply core trauma-informed principles.

The Assignment

In Week 4, you explored the concept of trauma-informed services through six principles and 10 implementation domains (SAMHSA, 2014). Now, choose a setting in which you have worked providing social work services (e.g., current/previous field placement, employer, etc.) and explore the principles and implementation domains of trauma-informed services in the setting you have chosen.

By Day 7

Submit a 5- to 7-page paper in which you address the following four areas:

  • Describe the agency setting. Is it public or private, non-profit or for-profit? Is the agency’s primary goal to serve trauma survivors? Approximately what percentage of clients would be defined as trauma survivors?
  • Explain each of the 10 implementation domains in detail and discuss if/how well the setting applies each of the 6 principles. You may want to present this in table format with a brief narrative.
  • What are your ideas for improving the principles that are not well implemented? Be specific about organizational, environmental, programmatic, and/or administrative changes that would need to be made.
  • Address the barriers to creating trauma-informed services in this setting.

******Any setting you chose is fine but i currently work for our public schools as a social worker in a very rural area. our primary goal is not to serve trauma survivors but we have therapists housed in our schools who can offer services to increase the students educational possibilities.


A trauma-informed approach reflects adherence to six key principles rather than a prescribed set of practices or procedures. These principles may be generalizable across multiple types of settings, although terminology and application may be setting- or sector-specific. SIX KEY PRINCIPLES OF A TRAUMA-INFORMED APPROACH 1. Safety 2. Trustworthiness and Transparency 3. Peer Support 4. Collaboration and Mutuality 5. Empowerment, Voice and Choice 6. Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues From SAMHSA’s perspective, it is critical to promote the linkage to recovery and resilience for those individuals and families impacted by trauma. Consistent with SAMHSA’s definition of recovery, services and supports that are trauma-informed build on the best evidence available and consumer and family engagement, empowerment, and collaboration. page 11 The six key principles fundamental to a trauma-informed approach include:24,36 1. Safety: Throughout the organization, staff and the 5. Empowerment, Voice and Choice: Throughout people they serve, whether children or adults, feel the organization and among the clients served, physically and psychologically safe; the physical individuals’ strengths and experiences are setting is safe and interpersonal interactions recognized and built upon. The organization promote a sense of safety. Understanding safety as fosters a belief in the primacy of the people served, defined by those served is a high priority. in resilience, and in the ability of individuals, organizations, and communities to heal and promote recovery from trauma. The organization 2. Trustworthiness and Transparency: understands that the experience of trauma may Organizational operations and decisions are be a unifying aspect in the lives of those who run conducted with transparency with the goal of the organization, who provide the services, and/ building and maintaining trust with clients and family or who come to the organization for assistance members, among staff, and others involved in the and support. As such, operations, workforce organization. development and services are organized to foster empowerment for staff and clients alike. 3. Peer Support: Peer support and mutual self-help Organizations understand the importance of power are key vehicles for establishing safety and hope, differentials and ways in which clients, historically, building trust, enhancing collaboration, and utilizing have been diminished in voice and choice and their stories and lived experience to promote are often recipients of coercive treatment. Clients recovery and healing. The term “Peers” refers to are supported in shared decision-making, choice, individuals with lived experiences of trauma, or in and goal setting to determine the plan of action the case of children this may be family members of they need to heal and move forward. They are children who have experienced traumatic events supported in cultivating self-advocacy skills. Staff and are key caregivers in their recovery. Peers have are facilitators of recovery rather than controllers also been referred to as “trauma survivors.” of recovery.34 Staff are empowered to do their work as well as possible by adequate organizational support. This is a parallel process as staff need to 4. Collaboration and Mutuality: Importance is feel safe, as much as people receiving services. placed on partnering and the leveling of power differences between staff and clients and among organizational staff from clerical and housekeeping 6. Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues: personnel, to professional staff to administrators, The organization actively moves past cultural demonstrating that healing happens in relationships stereotypes and biases (e.g. based on race, and in the meaningful sharing of power and ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religion, genderdecision-making. The organization recognizes that identity, geography, etc.); offers, access to gender everyone has a role to play in a trauma-informed responsive services; leverages the healing value approach. As one expert stated: “one does not have of traditional cultural connections; incorporates to be a therapist to be therapeutic.”12 policies, protocols, and processes that are responsive to the racial, ethnic and cultural needs of individuals served; and recognizes and addresses historical trauma.

TEN IMPLEMENTATION DOMAINS 1. Governance and Leadership 2. Policy 3. Physical Environment 4. Engagement and Involvement 5. Cross Sector Collaboration 6. Screening, Assessment, Treatment Services 7. Training and Workforce Development 8. Progress Monitoring and Quality Assurance 9. Financing 10. Evaluation page 13 GOVERNANCE AND LEADERSHIP: The leadership CROSS SECTOR COLLABORATION: Collaboration and governance of the organization support and invest across sectors is built on a shared understanding of in implementing and sustaining a trauma-informed trauma and principles of a trauma-informed approach. approach; there is an identified point of responsibility While a trauma focus may not be the stated mission of within the organization to lead and oversee this work; various service sectors, understanding how awareness and there is inclusion of the peer voice. A champion of trauma can help or hinder achievement of an of this approach is often needed to initiate a system organization’s mission is a critical aspect of building change process. collaborations. People with significant trauma histories often present with a complexity of needs, crossing POLICY: There are written policies and protocols various service sectors. Even if a mental health establishing a trauma-informed approach as clinician is trauma-informed, a referral to a traumaan essential part of the organizational mission. insensitive program could then undermine the Organizational procedures and cross agency progress of the individual. protocols, including working with community-based agencies, reflect trauma-informed principles. This SCREENING, ASSESSMENT, AND TREATMENT approach must be “hard-wired” into practices and SERVICES: Practitioners use and are trained in procedures of the organization, not solely relying interventions based on the best available empirical on training workshops or a well-intentioned leader. evidence and science, are culturally appropriate, and reflect principles of a trauma-informed approach. PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT OF THE Trauma screening and assessment are an essential ORGANIZATION: The organization ensures that the part of the work. Trauma-specific interventions are physical environment promotes a sense of safety acceptable, effective, and available for individuals and collaboration. Staff working in the organization and families seeking services. When trauma-specific and individuals being served must experience the services are not available within the organization, setting as safe, inviting, and not a risk to their physical there is a trusted, effective referral system in place or psychological safety. The physical setting also that facilitates connecting individuals with appropriate supports the collaborative aspect of a trauma informed trauma treatment. approach through openness, transparency, and shared spaces. TRAINING AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT: On-going training on trauma and peer-support are ENGAGEMENT AND INVOLVEMENT OF PEOPLE essential. The organization’s human resource system IN RECOVERY, TRAUMA SURVIVORS, PEOPLE incorporates trauma-informed principles in hiring, RECEIVING SERVICES, AND FAMILY MEMBERS supervision, staff evaluation; procedures are in place RECEIVING SERVICES: These groups have to support staff with trauma histories and/or those significant involvement, voice, and meaningful experiencing significant secondary traumatic stress choice at all levels and in all areas of organizational or vicarious trauma, resulting from exposure to and functioning (e.g., program design, implementation, working with individuals with complex trauma. service delivery, quality assurance, cultural competence, access to trauma-informed peer PROGRESS MONITORING AND QUALITY support, workforce development, and evaluation.) ASSURANCE: There is ongoing assessment, This is a key value and aspect of a trauma-informed tracking, and monitoring of trauma-informed principles approach that differentiates it from the usual and effective use of evidence-based trauma specific approaches to services and care. screening, assessments and treatment. page 14 FINANCING: Financing structures are designed to key principles of a trauma-informed approach. Many support a trauma-informed approach which includes of these questions and concepts were adapted from resources for: staff training on trauma, key principles the work of Fallot and Harris, Henry, Black-Pond, of a trauma-informed approach; development of Richardson, & Vandervort, Hummer and Dollard, and appropriate and safe facilities; establishment of Penney and Cave.39, 40, 41,42 peer-support; provision of evidence-supported trauma While the language in the chart may seem more screening, assessment, treatment, and recovery familiar to behavioral health settings, organizations supports; and development of trauma-informed cross- across systems are encouraged to adapt the sample agency collaborations. questions to best fit the needs of the agency, staff, EVALUATION: Measures and evaluation designs used and individuals being served. For example, a to evaluate service or program implementation and juvenile justice agency may want to ask how it would effectiveness reflect an understanding of trauma and incorporate the principle of safety when examining appropriate trauma-oriented research instruments.

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