Enhancing ‘Best Practice’ in Trauma-Informed Social Work Education: insights from a Study Exploring Educator and Student Experiences

John Cavener*, Sarah Lonbay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


This paper reports findings of a study exploring educator and student experiences of teaching and learning trauma-material. Two participant samples were recruited. Sample one included seven educators teaching trauma-material across two Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) delivering Social Work Programmes approved by Social Work England. Sample two included eight student social workers enrolled at the HEIs. Methods included educator semi-structured interviews and a student survey. Analysis used a deductive-inductive thematic approach. Highest frequency of comparable statements within data were coded into five themes indicative of trauma-informed teaching principles identified within literature including: (1) ensuring safety (2) maximising choice (3) encouraging collaboration (4) establishing trustworthiness and (5) prioritising empowerment. A sixth theme (6) promoting resilience was identified. Findings highlight educators’ understanding of vicarious trauma and relevance for risk of (re)traumatisation in the classroom of students’ experience of childhood adversity. This understanding was embedded in educators’ pedagogical practice(s) and how trauma-informed teaching principles were implicitly applied was identified. Experiences of receiving teaching in a trauma-informed way were shared by students. Findings indicate essential to ‘best practice’ is educators’ need to enhance awareness of trauma-informed teaching to help moderate risks to students and themselves associated with exposure to trauma-material in the classroom.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-338
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number2
Early online date24 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2024


Dive into the research topics of 'Enhancing ‘Best Practice’ in Trauma-Informed Social Work Education: insights from a Study Exploring Educator and Student Experiences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this