Trauma Informed this the answer to retention?

In June, we had a discussion on ACEs, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and their impact on an adult's health and wellness. So, we know that our students have experienced traumatic experiences, but what can we do about it? Recently, there has been a great deal of research related to Trauma Informed Leadership, TIL. I'd like to briefly highlight the six key elements of TIL and than have a discussion about how we can integrate these concepts in the adult education program.

  1. Safety: Throughout the organization, staff and the people they serve, whether children or adults, feel physically and psychologically safe; the physical setting is safe and interpersonal interactions promote a sense of safety defined by those served is a high priority.
  2. Trustworthiness and Transparency: Organizational operations and decisions are conducted with transparency with the goal of building and maintaining trust with clients and family members, among staff, and others involved in the organization.
  3. Peer Support: Peer support and mutual self-help are key vehicles for establishing safety and hope, building trust, enhancing collaboration, and utilizing their stories and lived experience to promote recovery and healing. The term “Peers” refers to individuals with lived experiences of trauma, or in the case of children this may be family members of children who have experienced traumatic events and are key caregivers in their recovery. Peers have also been referred to as “trauma survivors.”
  4.  Collaboration and Mutuality: Importance is placed on partnering and the leveling of power differences between staff and clients and among organizational staff from clerical and housekeeping personnel, to professional staff to administrators, that healing happens in relationships and in the meaningful sharing of power and decision-making. The organization recognizes that everyone has a role to play in a trauma-informed approach. As one expert stated: “one does not have of traditional cultural connections; incorporates to be a therapist to be therapeutic.”
  5. Empowerment, Voice and Choice: Throughout the organization and among the clients served, individual's strengths and experiences are recognized and built upon. The organization fosters a belief in the primacy of the people served, in resilience, and in the ability of individuals, organizations, and communities to heal and promote recovery from trauma. The organization understands that the experience of trauma may be a unifying aspect in the lives of those who run the organization, who provide the services, and/ or who come to the organization for assistance and support. 
  6. Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues: The organization actively moves past cultural stereotypes and biases  (e.g. based on race, and ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religion, gender identity, geography, etc. )offers, access to gender responsive services; leverages the healing value of traditional cultural connections; incorporates policies protocols, and processes that are responsive to the racial, ethic and cultural needs of individuals served; and recognizes and addresses historical trauma. 

What are your thoughts? How can you specifically integrate these practices in your program or your classroom and how will you see this increase student success? 

Kathy Tracey


Here's the new link:


I am very excited that this topic is being discussed in Adult Education!  It is very important for all adult educators to understand what TIC is and how to implement program and classroom strategies.  We are fortunate in Delaware as our governor has proclaimed this a Trauma Informed State.  I present workshops on this topic for adult educators, am a member of the Compassionate Connections team for DE DOE, and have presented TIC training at the 2018 DOL WIOA Convening.  So, while are we trying hard to get the word out in Delaware, the more information, the better!

Another good resource is available from AIR:

Thank you for starting this discussion!  I will definitely use this information in future state discussions and workshops.  I look forward to reading others' responses.