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Trauma Informed Educational Practice


Welcome to the Trauma Informed Educational Practices guide! Here you will find resources to help you learn about TIEP: what it is, its interrelated concepts, and the institutional supports that are necessary for success. A "Quick Start" page has slides and notes that the authors invite you to use in your classroom.

This is a living document. We welcome your ideas and contributions. To contribute materials, please contact

A note about the provided resources: Links are provided to open access / freely available resources when possible. For resources that require a subscription, links connect to University of Portland’s subscription. People from outside of the University of Portland community are encouraged to seek these resources through their local libraries.

Five phases of Becoming a Trauma Informed Education imagined as the growth of a tree: seeds, seedling, flowering, mature tree, collaborating to plant more trees. 

Oregon Education Association. (2023). Trauma informed education.

Phase 1: Trauma Aware 

This is the first developmental phase on the journey toward being trauma informed. Organizational staff and leadership are aware of the prevalence of trauma among those using services as well as the workforce. They are able to explain and advocate for trauma informed care. 

Phase 2: Trauma Sensitive 

This developmental phase builds on the awareness that trauma informed care is needed. Once the staff and leadership of an organization understand and can speak about the need for trauma informed care, they move into the trauma sensitive phase where they build knowledge and create readiness for change. The steps for this phase include Foundational Knowledge, Agency Readiness, and Process and Infrastructure.

Phase 3: Trauma Responsive 

During this developmental phase, the organization and staff will be identifying TIC opportunities and noticing what is already trauma informed. The workgroup (and others) will review organizational policies and practice in order to develop a work plan of action. Priorities will be established and monitored. The steps for this phase include gather information and prioritize & create plan. 

Phase 4: Trauma Informed 

In this final developmental phase, the organization will be implementing trauma informed care. Policies and practice will support the principles of TIC and should create a culture and environment that feels safe, empowering, trustworthy, and welcoming. This is an ongoing process of continuous improvement and monitoring. The steps for this phase include implement & monitor, and adopt policy and practice. 

Text from Trauma Informed Oregon

Black, P., Henderson-Smith, L., & Flinspach, S. (2021, September 21). Trauma-informed, resilience-oriented schools (TR) toolkit. National Center for School Safety.

Rates of Trauma Exposure

Exposure to traumatic events is more common than we may think. An estimated 66%-94% of university aged students experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime by the time they reach university; most of these events are the unexpected death of a loved one, or a life-threatening illness (Bernat et al., 1998; Frazier et al., 2009; Read et al., 2011; Smyth et al., 2008). More recently, links to trauma within the classroom have been connected to:

  • National focus on racial inequality
  • Gun violence
  • Mental Health
  • Covid-19 pandemic and the aftereffects

Trauma-Informed Pedagogy – Equitable Teaching (

Additionally, an estimated 70% of adults in the US have experienced at least one traumatic experience in their life (Sidran Institute, 2016). Unfortunately, trauma is a common experience amongst college aged students and adults.

Steven Mintz of the University of Texas at Austin challenges faculty to confront trauma within the classroom, but “to balance awareness of trauma and its impact on our students with an emphasis on human agency, self-efficacy and resilience and on the ability of individuals to cope with even extreme threats to their psychological well-being, harness their inner strengths and even grow from their experiences.” Trauma and the college classroom ( Remember the goal in raising one’s awareness of the reality of trauma exposure is

  • To contribute to a better overall learning environment for students.
  • To work on decreasing stress in the classroom and to strengthen individual resilience.

Dickson, M. (2016, September 7). Stress, trauma, and resilience -- Are they connected? Australian Childhood Foundation Professional Community.

Stress and Trauma

Stress and trauma are related but not the same. Stress is a normal part of life and occurs when people experience pressure or are threatened. The brain sends out a flood of hormones to prepare for this threat. This includes adrenaline (increases heart rate and makes it easier for muscles to use glucose) in preparation for that “fight or flight.” Cortisol restrains non-essential body functions and helps the brain to operate more effectively. While short term stress can help complete tasks more efficiently, when levels remain high for long periods of time, there can be negative effects on personal health. This includes concerns such as:

  • Brain fog or trouble thinking, racing thoughts, irritability, a sense of dread
  • Sleep problems
  • High blood pressure, chest pains, difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue *Weakened immune system
  • Depression, anxiety

 Stress is present in trauma, extreme stress can even lead to trauma. However, trauma is not typically present in “everyday” experiences of stress. Stress, Trauma, and the Link Between Them - Khiron Clinics


Contributors to this guide: Dr. Kala Mayer, Dr. Toyin Olukotun, Dr. Sally Rothacker-Peyton, Dr. Kate Trumbo, and Ms. Heidi Senior. Clark Library Reference Assistants assembled content and tracked down and hyperlinked references.


 We would like to acknowledge our reviewers for taking the time to review and give feedback on this guide. | 503.943.7111 or 800.841.8261 | 5000 N. Willamette Blvd., Portland, OR 97203-5798
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