Clinical Psychology

Teachers’ attitudes toward trauma-informed care

This study examined how teachers’ attitudes towards trauma informed care in secondary schools, used a mixed methods approach.

Awareness of the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences on educational outcomes has led to an increase in schools adopting trauma informed approaches. Teacher attitudes are pivotal to the success of any intervention adoption. Little is known, however, about how characteristics of teachers affect their attitudes towards trauma informed approaches. 

A mixed methods approach was taken, using a survey based on standardised measures and focus groups to investigate teachers' awareness and perceptions of trauma informed care, as well as barriers and faciliatators of its implementation. Focus groups with secondary school revealed that staff were often unsure about how trauma informed care should be implemented on a day to day basis and have divergent perceptions of what being trauma informed entailed. Divergent opinions were voiced on whether trauma informed approaches should take an individual or universal approach. 

In the survey component, teachers in the UK were surveyed on standardised measures of attitudes towards trauma informed care, attachment style, Adverse Childhood Experiences and demographic factors such as length of school career, previous training and age. When previous training was accounted for, those who had avoidant attachment styles were less likely to hold favourable opinions on trauma informed approaches. This suggests that beliefs about the self and relationships with others may influence the extent to which people will behave in trauma-informed ways.  

The results of this project demonstrate that there is, as yet, a lack of consistency in what being trauma informed means for different staff in school and furthermore, that staff attitudes towards trauma informed approaches will be influenced by their own relationship style.

Team: Karen Goodall, Hannah Robertson (NHS Scotland), Barnardos. Daniel Kay, Laura Fuller, Alex McRory, Megan O’Donoghue