Skip to Main Content

Education: Trauma informed education

A guide to research and resources in the field of education

I am looking for...


Traumas may be single events, such as the loss of a parent, a violent domestic crime, or a destructive act of nature. Traumas may be ongoing horrific acts, such as repeated sexual abuse, a pattern of adult-on-child violence, or exposure to repeated conflict in the home. Traumas may be chronic and the result of circumstances, such as homelessness, generational poverty, or foster care placement (Children and Trauma, 2008).

Trauma-Informed Practices (TIPs):

Definition: Based on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) definition of a trauma-informed approach, trauma-informed practice is “a program, organization, or system” that

  • Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery;

  • Recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system;

  • Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and

  • Seeks to actively resist re-traumatization.

Principles of Trauma-Informed Teaching and Learning (Adapted from Cole, Eisner, Gregory, & Ristuccia, 2013; SAMHSA, 2014; St. Andrews, 2013)

  1. Physical, Emotional, Social, and Academic Safety

  2. Trustworthiness and Transparency

  3. Support and Connection4.Inclusiveness and Shared Purpose

  4. Collaboration and Mutuality

  5. Empowerment, Voice, and Choice

  6. Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues

  7. Growth and Change

Trauma-Informed Schools:

A holistic approach to education in which all teachers, school administrators, staff, students, families, and community members recognize and respond to the behavioral, emotional, relational, and academic impact of traumatic stress on those within the school system.

Recommended Introductory Readings:

Duffy, M. & R. Comly. (March 2019).Trauma-Informed Schools in Pennsylvania: Aligning Expansion with High-Quality Implementation. PACER Policy Brief.

Pawlo, E., Lorenzo, A., Eichert, B., & Elias, M. J. (2019). All SEL Should Be Trauma-Informed. Phi Delta Kappan, 101(3), 37–41.

Thomas, M. S., Crosby, S., & Vanderhaar, J. (2019). Trauma-informed practices in schools across two decades: An interdisciplinary review of research. Review of Research in Education, 43(1), 422–452.

Recommended Search Terms: Mix and match these in databases in search engines to find additional readings.  Use quotation marks to hold exact phrases together. Example: "Trauma Informed"

adverse childhood experiences (ACE), trauma-informed care, trauma-informed schools, trauma informed practices, trauma-informed teaching, teacher training, trauma, teaching methods, emotional trauma, intervention, school based intervention, childhood adversity, posttraumatic stress disorder, socio-emotional development

Free books/handbooks (PDFs) or Library E-Books

The Heart of Learning: Compassion, Resiliency, and Academic Success (2009)

Helping Traumatized Children Learn

Volume 1: A Report and Policy Agenda (2005)
Volume 2: Creating and Advocating for Trauma-Sensitive Schools

Jaycox, L. H. (Ed.). (2006). How schools can help students recover from traumatic experiences: A tool-kit for supporting long-term recovery. Rand Gulf States Policy Institute.

Hannigan, J. D., & Hannigan, J. E. (2020). Building behavior: The educator’s guide to evidence-based initiatives. Corwin.  See Chapter 6.

Margolius, M., Pufall Jones, E., Hynes, M. (2020). Creating cultures of care: Supporting the whole child through trauma-informed practice. Washington, DC: America’s Promise Alliance. 

Pickens, I.B., & Tschopp, N. (2017). Trauma-Informed Classrooms. National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

More Library Ebooks may be available. Search:

It might be useful in the course of your research to know some leading scholars in this field of study. This list is not exhaustive, but should provide a starting point for exploring available literature around the topic of trauma-informed responses in education.

  • Shantel Crosby - Associate Professor, Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville - Research Interests: Wellbeing and adverse childhood experiences among youth who are court-involved or at risk of court-involvement, with emphasis on youth of color. She examines trauma and behavioral/socioemotional health among this population and explores trauma-informed responses to maladaptive youth behaviors. She is also interested in examining innovative practices and interventions across childserving systems that address negative youth behavior and trauma symptomatology.
  • Christopher T. H. Liang - Professor of Counseling Psychology and Department Chairperson of Education and Human Services at Lehigh University - Research Interests: the intersections of race and gender, as well as the effectiveness of trauma-responsive schools approach, is aimed at reducing racial disparities in education and health settings.
  • M. Shelley Thomas - Associate Professor, Social Studies Education, University of Louisville Research Interests: Transdisciplinary social justice approaches to pervasive challenges in teacher preparation, such as classroom management with trauma informed and anti-racist perspectives.
  • Janice Carello - Assistant Professor and MSW Program Director for the Social Work department at Edinboro University - Research Interests: Retraumatization in educational settings and on bringing a trauma-informed approach to higher education.
  • Jessica Minahan - Director of behavioral services at the Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents group practice in Newton, Masssachusetts
  • Sandra M. Chafouleas  - Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Connecticut - Research interests: School-based behavior assessment and intervention and school mental health. Emphasis of this work is on prevention and early intervention, and within an ecological systems perspective. Currently exploring work around trauma-informed service delivery in schools.
  • Stacy Overstreet - Professor in the Department of Psychology at Tulane University - Research interests: family violence, school-based intervention, trauma-informed care
  • Jessica Djabrayan Hannigan - Assistant Professor in the Educational Leadership Department at California State University, Fresno - Research interests - Response to Intervention (RTI) Behavior, Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS), Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and more.


Get Searching!

Primo Search - Search books, articles, and media

Request Library Materials by Mail - Any remote, graduate students can request Murray Library materials to be mailed to your home. Free service.

Interlibrary Loan - Free service to retrieve books and articles not owned by Messiah

  • Articles will be emailed as PDFs to your Messiah email account. Allow one week for delivery.
  • Books will be delivered by UPS mail in 5-10 business days. Pre-paid return postage for all graduate students with US addresses.

Ask a Librarian - Sarah Myers

APA Citation Manual - APA examples for formatting reference pages and in-text citations. See green "Learn" tab.

ZBib - Bibliography & citation creator (you are responsible for double-checking accuracy)