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trauma informed workplace

Six Principles of Trauma Informed Supervision

Leaders in trauma-informed organizations should understand the six principles of trauma-informed supervision. Safety; Trustworthiness and Transparency; Support and Connection; Collaboration and Mutuality; Empowerment, Voice, and Choice; Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues.

Expand the sections below for more information.

  • Ensure physical and psychological safety in the environment and relationships. Persons served (employees, not their leaders) determine whether safety is achieved.
  • Focus on a sense of safety for staff. Defer to employees to define it.
  • Ensure workplace safety standards are understood and followed.
  • Make decisions transparently to ensure employees feel included in the process.
  • Share transparently with staff about why and how decisions are made. Communicate regularly, openly, and honestly.
  • Communication from leaders should be clear, regular, and transparent.
  • Make time and space for staff members experiencing traumatic stress to support each other.
  • Individuals can feel supported when connecting with others who lived a similar experience. Supervisors should support and encourage community connection for those who need it. Exercise caution if connections between some employees leave others without a common bond to draw them into a support system.
  • Acknowledge that specific employee needs may change over time throughout their grieving process.  Check in regularly to make sure you support them in the way they need in the present.
  • Be alert to comments or behaviors that create a “my experience is more/less traumatic” dynamic and intervene to validate that all experiences are equally difficult.
  • Be aware of power dynamics in gathering spaces.
  • Rather than tell employees what to do, collaborate with them to determine and meet goals.
  • Everyone has a role in supporting the trauma-informed needs of our community.
  • Acknowledge employee experiences by ensuring they have a voice within the organization.
  • Listen to feedback from employees. Offer positive support, encouragement, and tools. Facilitate rather than dictate.
  • Create inclusive space and time for individuals to use their voice.
  • Encourage individuals to identify and implement solutions.
  • Ask employees to identify strengths or gifts that they can offer to the team or others. 
  • Recognize and address biases. Ensure policies and practices respond to the unique cultural, racial, and ethnic needs of the community you serve. 
  • Recognize how factors such as historical trauma, racial trauma, discrimination, and culture impact employees’ experiences of their work.
  • Acknowledge the diverse experiences of different populations on our campus.
  • Communicate intentionally to reinforce an environment of safety and inclusivity.



Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-informed Approach, SAMHSA, 2014

A Trauma-Informed Approach to Workforce, Vickie Choitz and Stacey Wagner, National Fund for Workforce Solutions, 2021

Trauma-Informed Supervision: Building Strong Relationships and Organizations, Anole Halper, Relias, 2020


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