Trauma-Informed Professional Development



This chapter proposes plans for professional development within an organizational context that is trauma-informed at all levels from working with clients to caring for workers. This context provides a supportive and educational new-worker experience, opportunities for growth over time, supportive and nurturing supervision and mentoring, a culture in which resilience techniques are embedded in practice, and an opportunity for reflective and meaningful practice. It analyzes theories of professional development, specifically the Dreyfus and Dreyfus model, and extends this model to incorporate trauma-informed care principles in the area of child welfare work. This chapter offers a plan for development from student to seasoned worker that includes a model for transitioning to work in agencies that are inherently stressful and potentially trauma producing. It also includes a discussion of trauma-informed clinical supervision and incorporation of reflective practice into agency work as usual and customary practice. A model for reflection, the DEAL model, is described. The chapter ends with a discussion of resilience in child welfare agencies.


Professional Development Transition to Work Reflective Practice Trauma-informed professional development Trauma-informed Clinical Supervision 


  1. Ash, S., Clayton, P., & Moses, M. (2006). Excerpts from teaching and learning through critical reflection: An instructor’s guide. Raleigh, NC: Clayton & Moses.Google Scholar
  2. Barbee, A., Antle, B., Sullivan, D., Huebner, R., Fox, S., & Hall, J. C. (2009). Recruiting and retaining child welfare workers: Is preparing students enough for sustained commitment to the field? Child Welfare, 88(5), 69–86.Google Scholar
  3. California Social Work Education Center. (2004). Statewide Training and Education Committee (STEC): Common core training requirements: Executive summary and recommendations. Berkeley, CA: University of California, California Social Work Education Center.Google Scholar
  4. Clark, S. J., Smith, R. J., & Uota, K. (2013). Professional development opportunities as retention incentives in child welfare. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(10), 1687–1697. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Council on Social Work Education. (2015). Educational policy and accreditation standards. Alexandria, VA: CSWE.Google Scholar
  6. Dickinson, N. S., & Painter, J. S. (2009). Predictors of undesired turnover for child welfare workers. Child Welfare, 88(5), 187–205.Google Scholar
  7. Dickinson, N., & Perry, R. E. (2003). Factors influencing the retention of specially educated public child welfare workers. Journal of Health & Social Policy, 15(3/4), 89–103.Google Scholar
  8. Dreyfus, H., & Dreyfus, S. (1986). Mind over machine. New York, NY: Free Press.Google Scholar
  9. Duchscher, J. E. B. (2008). Transition shock: the initial stage of role adaptation of role adaptation for the newly registered nurse. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 65(5), 1103–1113. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2008.04898.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ellett, A. (2009). Intentions to remain employed in child welfare: The role of human caring, self- efficacy beliefs, and professional organizational culture. Children and Youth Services Review, 31(1), 78–88. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2008.07.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Figley, C. R. (1995). Compassion fatigue: Coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder in those who treat the traumatized. New York, NY: Bruner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  12. Gayle, R. (2011). The mentoring relationship: Co-creating personal and professional growth. In R. H. Klein, H. S. Bernard, & V. L. Schermer (Eds.), On becoming a psychotherapist: The personal and professional journey. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Harris, M., & Fallot, R. D. (2001). Envisioning a trauma-informed service system: A vital paradigm shift. In M. Harris & R. D. Fallot (Eds.), Using trauma theory to design service systems. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  14. Kram, K. (1985). Mentoring at work: Developmental relationships in organizational life. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, and Company.Google Scholar
  15. Larimer, S. (2015). From testing the water to riding the waves: New master of social work graduates’ journey from student to professional (Order No. 3730537). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1727753562). Retrieved from
  16. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lay, K., & McGuire, L. (2010). Building a lens for critical reflection and reflexivity in social work education. Social Work Education, 29(5), 539–550. doi: 10.1080/02615470903159125 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Leake, R., de Guzman, A., Rienks, S., Archer, G., & Potter, C. (2015). NCWWI traineeships: A national cross-site evaluation of child welfare stipend programs for ethnically diverse students. Journal of Social Work Education, 51(sup2), S299–S316.Google Scholar
  19. LeMaistre, C., & Pare, A. (2004). Learning in two communities: The challenge for universities and workplaces. Journal of Workplace Learning, 16(1/2), 44–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Madden, E. E., Scannapieco, M., & Painter, K. (2014). An examination of retention and length of employment among public child welfare workers. Children & Youth Services Review, 41, 37–44. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.02.015 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mor Barak, M. E., Nissly, J. A., & Levin, A. (2001). Antecedents to retention and turnover among child welfare, social work, and other human service employees: What can we learn from past research? A review and meta-analysis. Social Service Review, 75, 625–661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. National Child Welfare Workforce Institute. (2015). Traineeship programs: Final evaluation report 2008–2014. Albany, NY: Author.Google Scholar
  23. Nelson-Gardell, D., & Harris, D. (2003). Childhood abuse history, secondary traumatic stress and child welfare workers. Child Welfare, 82(1), 5–26.Google Scholar
  24. Pennebaker, J. W., Kiecolt-Glaser, J., & Glaser, R. (1988). Disclosure of traumas and immune function: Health implications for psychotherapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56(2), 239–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pierce, B. (2011). Pre and post perceptions of social work practice and agency placement among senior social work students: From the darkness into the light. (Electronic thesis or dissertation). Retrieved from
  26. Resilience Alliance. (2011). Promoting resilience and reducing secondary trauma among child welfare staff. Retrieved from
  27. Rosenthal, J. A., & Waters, E. (2006). Predictors of child welfare worker retention and performance: Focus on title IV-E-funded social work education. Journal of Social Service Research, 32(3), 67–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Trauma-informed approach and trauma specific interventions. Retrieved from on 8/26/16 at 10AM.
  29. Schlossberg, N. K. (2011). The challenge of change: The transition model and its applications. Journal of Employment Counseling, 48(4), 159–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Shulman, L. (1982). Skills of supervision and staff management. Itaska, Canada: F. E. Peacock.Google Scholar
  31. University of Southern Maine, Child Welfare Training Institute. (2007). Maine child welfare caseworker competency model. Portland, ME: Author.Google Scholar
  32. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Zlotnik, J., DePanfilis, D., Daining, C., & Lane, M. M. (2003). Factors influencing retention of child welfare staff: A systematic review of the literature. Washington, DC: Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indiana University School of Social WorkIndianapolisUSA

Personalised recommendations