“What Does it Mean to be Trauma-Informed?” : A Mixed-Methods Study of a Trauma-Informed Community Initiative

Trauma during childhood has the potential to adversely affect one’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development across the life span. However, the adverse effects of trauma can be prevented and mitigated through holistic services and supports that are trauma-informed. The Pottstown Trauma-Informed Community Connection (PTICC) is a community-based initiative that aims to build a trauma-informed community through training diverse stakeholders (e.g., school staff, providers, community leaders, parents) on the potential signs and symptoms of child trauma and how to create safe physical and emotional environments for children and families.


This paper presents findings from a mixed-methods study of education and community partners’ (N = 82) experiences in PTICC and their understandings of what it means to become trauma-informed. Paired sample t-tests found significant changes in participants’ beliefs about trauma-informed practice, but there were no changes in participants’ perceptions of the impacts of PTICC on their use of trauma-informed practices and supports. Focus groups with education (n = 6) and community (n = 5) partners found that participants regarded being “trauma-informed” as reframing one’s perspective, being more self-reflective, acquiring skills to respond more effectively to others who have experienced trauma, and having a sense of hope for the future. Findings also revealed perceived benefits of trauma training and challenges associated with getting others to buy-in to trauma-informed work. Potential methodological considerations for future community-engaged research in building trauma-informed communities are discussed. These considerations include the need to address ceiling effects, disaggregate data, and mitigate challenges associated with participant engagement.




  • The adverse effects of trauma can be prevented and mitigated through holistic services that are trauma-informed.
  • Participation in PTICC was linked to enhanced understanding of what it means to be “trauma-informed”.
  • This mixed-methods study raised methodological considerations for future research in building trauma-informed communities.
Robey B. Champine, Erin E. Hoffman, Samantha L. Matlin, Michael J. Strambler & Jacob Kraemer Tebes | 2022
In: Journal of Child and Family Studies ; ISSN: 1062-1024 | 31 | 2 | february | 459-472
Childhood Adversities, Children, Communities, Education, Family Members, Interventions, Methodology, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Professional Training, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Research, Research Participation, Teachers