What is Trauma Informed Practice in Schools?

what is trauma informed practice in schools

Adverse experiences in childhood can have a lasting impact on a child’s cognitive, emotional, social, physical, and psychological development. In the UK, it is estimated that more than 1 in every 3 young people will experience traumatic events or adverse childhood experiences. To support the needs of all learners, it is therefore crucial that schools prioritise creating a trauma-informed learning environment which fosters emotional and relational safety. 

Trauma: A Barrier to Learning

When children experience trauma in early life, they learn that other people and the world around them are scary and unpredictable. To keep themselves safe, they become hypervigilant to threat – their brains go into “survival mode”. When our survival or “downstairs” brain is active and working hard to keep us safe from danger, our upstairs or “thinking brain” is offline. As a result, the child’s ability to engage in learning or social/emotional development is significantly impacted. 

Young people who have experienced trauma may exhibit a wide range of difficulties in school and at home. For example, they may have difficulties with social interactions, language, communication, emotional regulation, sensory processing, or behaviour. 

To support every child to thrive in education, it is therefore crucial that educators recognise the impact of early trauma on a child’s development and the important role that secure, nurturing relationships and trauma-focused interventions play in helping children to heal and build resilience. 

How Can Meadows Psychology Service Help?

At Meadows Psychology Service, we understand that education can be extremely difficult for children who have experienced trauma and/or those who experience mental health difficulties. Meadows Psychology Service works with providers within their educational environment helping to nurture a creative, sustainable culture that supports emotional wellbeing and encourages a whole school approach to positive mental health within their provision.

Our experienced team of psychologists and psychological therapists work to support a range of schools and alternative education settings across the country in establishing a whole school, trauma informed approach which promotes positive and inclusive outcomes for children, young people and their families. This is achieved through:

Transformation Support: MPS will support education settings through consultative transformation work to ensure a trauma informed, therapeutic approach runs through every element of the setting. This can include SLT support and consultation, review of practice, policy & document review and support, training.

Training and Development: Meadows Psychology Services offers a range of training packages, including:

  • Whole school trauma sensitive training
  • P.A.C.E (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity & Empathy) approach in Education 
  • PBS (Positive Behaviour Support) Approach in Education
  • Understanding Attachment and Developmental Trauma
  • Working with young people with sensory processing difficulties

Bespoke training packages can also be delivered to meet the specific requirements of individual schools or clusters of schools. 

Consultation: Consultations can be held with staff teams to ensure staff feel they have the skills and confidence needed to work therapeutically with the young people they work alongside. Education provisions can also request consultation support to address whole school issues or support whole school development plans. 

Reflective Practice: At Meadows psychology service, we recognise the importance of supporting and enhancing staff resilience and well-being. Our reflective sessions aim to provide a safe space for school staff teams to explore the realms of working within complex systems with children and young people who can present with challenging and complex difficulties within the learning environment.

Assessment: We offer a range of psychological assessments for children and the systems around the child, including assessments of risk (e.g., AIM3). This aims to provide the staff team with a greater awareness of each young person’s individual strengths and difficulties, and guidance on therapeutic ways of working to support each child in a way that is trauma-informed and responsive.  All our assessments highlight recommendations for direct therapeutic intervention with a therapist, in addition to recommendations and specific guidance for staff within the school environment. 

Individual Therapy: We work directly with students and parents/carers supporting a systemic approach to therapy. Sessions can be offered through small group work or on a one-to-one basis with children and young people.

For more information on how Meadows Psychology Service can help, get in touch via our online form.

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