How to Use This Change Package & Trauma-Informed Principles



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Research: Trauma-Informed Organizations

How to Use This Change Package & Trauma-Informed Principles

This manual provides concrete TI improvement strategies organized by a systems-wide TI understanding and eight TI principles. Each principle highlights several domains, or key components of demonstrating the principle, and has change strategies targeted towards those domains. The change strategies are organized by “staff experiences” and “consumer experiences” and align along eight types of changes:

  • Implementing Direct Consumer Feedback
  • Policy Review, Development & Reminders
  • Mass Communication/Public Statements
  • Procedures/Accountability
  • Resource Development/Allocation
  • Education/Training
  • Supervision/Observation & Skills Coaching
  • Leadership Action/Modeling

Each organization should review their assessment results and find principles or domains where the organization needs improvement. Review the corresponding change strategies in this manual and consider what would work best for the organization (e.g. what would address the underlying need, what power does the organization have to make the change). Changes should be implemented using a Plan, Study, Do, Act (PDSA) model in order to evaluate the impact of the change and make adjustments in the future as needed. Be mindful not to make too many changes at once, as it would be difficult to isolate what change made the impact.

These change strategies are suggestions for TI policies and practices, yet they may not be suitable for every organization. Some of these recommendations are more resource-heavy or depend on the organizational structure (i.e. health centers impeded within hospital systems or public health departments), yet every organization can find ways to become more TI. Being a TI organization is a process, not a destination, so organizations should start where they can and celebrate small victories. There is additional space at the end of this package to write in change strategies suggestions from the TI Committee or Assessment, which should be tailored to the unique structures of each program and community.

Change strategies marked with the TK icon denotes a related resource or template in the Council’s TI Organizations Toolkit.

Note: The term ‘organization” is used interchangeably with “system” and “program” throughout this document.




Creating an environment where people are protected from danger, including emotional, physical, and psychological safety, as well as crisis management.

Cultural Sensitivity and Humility

Cultivating an open attitude and skills in learning about diverse cultures, identities, and experiences, including race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and refugee and immigration status, while considering the impact of historical oppression, the role of privilege and power, and uplifting the voices and experiences of marginalized groups.


Creating an open and honest culture with processes and structures to share information and include diverse perspectives in the decision-making process, while ensuring respect for both subjective perception and objective truths.


Developing autonomy and respect for personal freedom and control grounded in fully informed consent.


Demonstrating reliability and credibility in relationships, including balancing consistency and flexibility, maintaining privacy and confidentiality, and respecting healthy boundaries.

Compassion and Empathy

Creating a culture of understanding and interacting with people based on respect, validation and affirmation, non-judgment, and humanity.


Supporting policies and practices that care for the physical, emotional, relational/social, and cognitive well-being of consumers and staff, particularly being mindful of vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue.


Focus on assets and resources over problems or deficits, incorporating recovery-oriented and person-centered approaches that uplift dignity and integrate concepts of resilience.
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