Trauma-informed Practice

Our research into Trauma-informed Practice

The Trauma-informed Practice strand of the Innovate Project has explored the use and value of this approach to developing practice methods and systems for young people affected by extra-familial risks or harms. In two case study sites in England and Scotland we examined the processes of innovation in real time through two years of ethnographic fieldwork. In particular, we explored the specific facilitators of, and barriers to, innovation and whether/how Trauma-informed Practice is a useful framework improving professional responses to this group of young people. Please see below for a range of resources developed through the project, including webinars, practice tools, and articles.

What is Trauma-informed Practice?

Drawing from their own experiences of working in mental health, Maxine Harris and Roger Fallot in 2001 recognised this as a problem, and proposed that services should utilise a ‘trauma-informed’ approach to improve outcomes across practice systems – for both traumatised people and the professionals tasked with helping them achieve safety and stability in their lives. As a framework, Trauma-informed Practice is relevant across a range of disciplines, helping professionals to avoid pathologising trauma and, instead, emphasising the resilience and recovery inherent in traumatised individuals’ best efforts to stay safe.

This is particularly relevant for young people who have experienced emotional, physical, sexual, and relational trauma as a result of exposure to extra-familial risks. In practice systems that are not trauma-informed, young people may be easily penalised for behaviours that result from prior trauma and their own best efforts to feel physically, emotionally, and relationally safe. Professionals utilising Trauma-informed Practice prioritise safety, trust, collaboration, choice, and empowerment in their interactions with traumatised young people. They work with young people, not on or for them, prioritising the building of relationships, and working to avoid re-traumatising whenever possible. They understand the ways in which trauma responses can manifest, and ensure that the young people they work with feel physically and emotionally safe before, during and after any interactions. A growing body of research indicates that working in a trauma-informed way does effectively reduce trauma symptoms and lead to positive behaviour change. This has led to significant, increasing interest in TiP in the UK from a range of sectors including health, social care and criminal justice.


This animated video explores the use of trauma informed practice in response to young people affected by extra-familial risks and harms. It is based on the fictional story of Lily – a 15yr old girl, elicited from the study findings.

Webinar: In this webinar, hosted by Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, Michelle Lefevre and Carlene Firmin set out some of the challenges that local authorities and other social care organisations face in developing trauma-informed responses to extra-familial risks and harms. They share some emergent findings from the Innovate Project’s fieldwork with two sites in the UK.

This infographic uses findings from the innovate project to raise awareness to the importance of implementing a trauma informed approach while we write/record/communicate information about young people experiencing extra-familial risks and harms.

An infographic of writing about young people in trauma-informed ways

You can download slides from a webinar led by Kristine Langhoff (Hickle) and Roni Eyal-Lubling in October 2023 entitledIntroducing a trauma-informed approach across an organisation: what to do and why a whole-system approach matters

A Brief Introduction to Trauma Informed Practice by Kristine Langhoff (Hickle). This is designed to help you understand the impact of trauma on the children, young people, families, and communities you encounter in your work and, through the framework of ‘Trauma-Informed Practice’, find ways of improving safety, resilience, and well-being for yourself, your colleagues, and the individuals and communities you encounter in your work.

This paper explores 'Creating a Trauma-Informed Environment' by Chrissy Bulling and Kristine Langhoff (Hickle)

Regulation Inventory Resource created by Prof. Kristine Langhoff (Hickle) and Chrissy Bulling with Charlotte Watts

These three videos give a snapshot of some key - but often ignored - areas of trauma-informed practice. They can be used as a teaching resource, as well as part of a wider knowledge exchange agenda.

Who was involved with this strand of the project?

  • Professor Carlene Firmin from the University of Durham led the case study research conducted within the Trauma-informed Practice Strand of the Innovate Project.
  • Professor Kristine Langhoff (Hickle) from the University of Sussex provided expertise in researching Trauma-informed Practice in other organisations and local authorities.
  • Dr Reima Ana Maglajlic, Dr Carlie Goldsmith and Dr Roni Eyal-Lubling undertook ethnography, conducting surveys, analysing case files, and interviewing professionals, young people and families.
  • Rebecca Godar from Research in Practice worked with each site to consider how administrative data management systems was used to support service delivery and evaluation.
  • Professor Lisa Holmes from the University of Sussex undertook Cost Effectiveness Analysis, explored the value for money of the innovations