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Trauma-informed practice principles

Before you continue…

The information in this section has been written for professionals. Some of the information covers difficult and distressing life experiences and the negative impact these can have on children and young people. You can choose to read on, or click here if you are looking for support for you or your child.

Trauma-informed practice principles

Development of these principles

The principles for trauma-informed practice were suggested by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration in the USA (SAMHSA 2014) and are internationally recognised, although sometimes the wording is changed a little. While developed for use in a specific service context, they can and do apply universally when thinking about trauma informed practice.

These principles create a lens through which to look at our practice and to think about how we can create relationships and experiences that offer the opposite to those that left a traumatic impact. This process of reflection helps us to deepen and extend a trauma informed approach.


Instead of THREAT & DANGER.

Taking care that people feel physically, emotionally and relationally safe.

Trust and Transparency

Instead of BETRAYAL and SECRECY.

Taking time to nurture trust; decisions, policies and communications made to be transparent and reliable.

Peer support and connection


Connection and support between people with shared experiences are valued and facilitated.

Cultural humility and responsiveness


Recognising and moving past stereotypes and biases, validating experiences of prejudice; offering culturally-attuned responses.



People’s strengths and resources are recognised and developed; belief in people’s capacity to heal and grow following adversity and trauma.


Instead of COERCION.

Doing with not to others; meaningful sharing of power and decision-making; recognising that healing happens in relationships.

The principles relate to everybody. This includes children, young people and families who are seeking support or input of some kind. It also includes people who work in settings or organisations that offer some sort of help or support, be that healthcare, social care, educational or community-based provision.


Isn’t this what we already do?

When you look at the principles, this might be what you think because yes, you absolutely will be addressing many of these things to some extent. It’s really important to recognize the ways in which your way of doing things already fits with a trauma informed approach – these are things to nuture and to celebrate. But there will also be things you are doing that don’t fit with these principles, some things you could avoid, adapt or stop doing altogether. And there will also be more you could do: things to start doing and to spread into new areas of your work.

What does trauma informed practice involve?

Visit our page here to find out more.