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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/practice-standards/about-our-practice-framework/trauma-informed-theory/
Printed: 01/12/2020
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Last updated: 01/04/2019

Trauma-informed theory

One of the theories that underpins our practice framework. Trauma-informed theory helps us understand the nature and impacts of trauma.

What trauma-informed theory is

Trauma-informed theory is focused on the impacts trauma can have on tamariki and whānau when they have experienced challenging events at an individual or collective level. 

Why it's important

Understanding trauma is important for practitioners as they work with tamariki and whānau. People can and will recover from trauma and our focus is to support their resilience.

While trauma sits on a continuum and does not define those impacted by it, we need to:

  • know how to support tamariki and whānau effectively when they are impacted by trauma in its various forms
  • be aware of how our decisions impact on their wellbeing
  • do everything we can to support them in their recovery and healing.

Key points

  • Vulnerable tamariki and whānau have often experienced events or circumstances that feel like they threaten their survival, cause significant feelings of fear and distress and overwhelm their ability to cope.
  • Tamariki may be impacted by multiple forms of trauma over time including:
    • historical trauma and racism through colonisation in Aotearoa
    • systemic trauma through interactions with systems of care
    • intergenerational trauma across families and generations
    • direct trauma to individuals.
  • Cultural alienation and discrimination can intensify the trauma experienced by tamariki. Culture is closely interwoven with healing from trauma.
  • Child welfare systems and practices can mitigate or exacerbate impacts of trauma.
  • Trauma can impact on tamariki growth and development, behaviour, relationships, resilience in responding to risk, and all other forms of wellbeing.
  • Access to resources within systems of care can help build resilience and facilitate healing.
  • The child welfare workforce is potentially impacted by vicarious trauma through their work with tamariki, whānau and systems of care.

Trauma-informed practice