How trauma-informed and restorative practices can work hand-in-hand

When working with young offenders, trauma-informed practice with a restorative approach combine to allow a neutral approach which is beneficial for both the victim and the offender. The trauma-informed approach takes account of the young person’s life experience to develop a deeper understanding of what trauma they have experienced. It takes into account their family and peer relationships, socio-economic background and their experience as a victim of crime. This holistic way of working allows practitioners to see the bigger picture and understand the young person’s motivation for offending.

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Trauma-informed practice looks at what trauma the young offender has experienced and how this has impacted them. It is ‘young person focused’ and looks at what has happened rather than what is ‘wrong’. By learning about the youth’s experiences, practitioners can develop a personalised intervention plan which considers their individual needs. It takes into account the whole person and looks at how their experiences have shaped their sense of self and their beliefs about the world.

What are the principles of trauma-informed care?

The guiding principles of trauma-informed care are safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness and empowerment. The first step is to ensure that the young person feels physically and emotionally safe. Trust is built by establishing clear and consistent boundaries and being transparent about expectations. By giving an individual choice and the opportunity to collaborate, they are more likely to engage and participate. Trauma informed training helps practitioners recognise trauma and respond sensitively. Courses such as Tidal Training trauma informed training are a good way for people to understand how to apply trauma-informed care and learn how it works in practice.

What is a restorative approach?

A restorative approach focuses on repairing the harm that has been caused. It is victim-led, so the needs of the person who has been harmed are central to this practice. It takes into account the person’s feelings, responses and reactions and is participant-informed with a tailored approach. You can read more about restorative practice on the anti-bullying alliance website here:

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Trauma-informed practice and restorative approaches work hand-in-hand and although the restorative approach is victim-led, the needs of the person who caused the harm are not ignored. Practitioners using a trauma-informed approach also consider the offender’s experiences and this allows for a neutral approach. This benefits everyone involved and as well as contributing to repairing the harm caused, it also helps to prevent reoffending.

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