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September/October 2015Vol. 16, No. 7Learning Communities for Trauma-Informed Practice

Trauma is increasingly found to be correlated with conditions affecting behavioral, mental, and physical health. Individuals who have had adverse childhood experiences, such as physical and sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and substance abuse, can be at higher risk for behavioral and physical health issues. In light of this, organizations engaged in service delivery should strive be more trauma-informed and have a more holistic approach to treating trauma-impacted individuals and communities.

A recent report published by the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research and the National Council for Behavioral Health highlights a yearlong learning community (LC), a collaboration between the two organizations. The LC represents a strategy for teaching and modeling for organizations how to increase their knowledge and successful implementation of the fundamentals of trauma-informed care (TIC). With the help of trauma experts, LC participant organizations were taught strategies for change management, continuous quality improvement, workforce development, and capacity building to help organizations reach the National Council for Behavioral Health's domains for being trauma informed:

  • Early screening and comprehensive assessment of trauma
  • Consumer-driven care and services
  • Trauma-informed, educated, and responsive workforce
  • Provision of trauma-informed, evidence-based, and emerging best practices
  • Create a safe and secure environment
  • Engage in community outreach and partnership building
  • Ongoing performance improvement and evaluation

The report defines trauma, discusses its prevalence and effect on individuals, and examines implications for service systems. The report also addresses the LC model for implementation and the results of the LC. While organizations reported certain challenges related to implementation, 92 percent of the organizations were able to implement TIC in at least six of the seven domains.

For more information on LCs and to read the report Harnessing the Learning Community Model to Integrate Trauma-Informed Care Principles in Service Organizations, visit (166 KB).

Related Item

CBX spotlighted trauma-informed care in the February 2012 issue, available at

For more information and resources on Trauma-Informed Practice, visit Child Welfare Information Gateway at