Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

D.S.W. Social work


Social Work

First Advisor

John Vafeas, DSW, LSW

Second Advisor

Janice Gasker, DSW, LCSW

Third Advisor

Lydia DeBiase


The idea of trauma-informed practices is a broad concept that can be utilized to create a safe environment in which individuals, families, communities and organizations that have been exposed to trauma can be and feel supported. Trauma-informed practices are important due to the pervasive nature of trauma exposure (Kilpatrick et al., 2013). Traumatic experiences can impact individuals’ physical and mental health over the course of their lifespans (Avery, et al., 2021; Centers for Disease Control, 2021; Gonzalez et al., 2016; McWey, 2020; Mersky et al., 2019; Porche et al., 2016; SAMHSA, 2014a; Trauma Informed Care Implementation Resource Center, 2021; Zyromski et al., 2022). Absent appropriate interventions, affected individuals may demonstrate various trauma reactions, suffer from mental health symptoms, and exhibit difficulties in the school setting as a result of their experiences (Brandell & Ringel, 2019; Clearly et al., 2017; Dodd et al., 2023; Dorsey et al., 2017; Ellis & Tate, 2022; Gilboa-Schectman et al., 2010; Gonzalez et al., 2016; Krystal, 1978; McLaughlin et al., 2013; Perfect et al., 2017; SAMHSA, 2022; Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Center, 2021; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2021; van der Kolk, 2000). Schools are in a unique position to provide support to students who have experienced traumatic events due to the number of hours spent in school each day. This study surveyed 239 Pennsylvania school social workers and obtained qualitative data from 10 school social workers via focus groups to obtain information regarding their use of trauma-informed practices and interest in professional development regarding trauma-informed practices. Despite variables in the work setting influencing their use and interest in professional development related to trauma-informed practices, participants reported that they are using this form of engagement and wanting to learn more via quality professional development sessions that are tailored to their learning needs.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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Social Work Commons



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