Supervision for trauma-informed practice

Roni Berger, Laura Quiros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


To become trauma-informed, a system of care must demonstrate an understanding of the complexity of trauma and recognition of it as both interpersonal and sociopolitical. Although awareness of the need to enhance systems of care to become trauma-informed has been growing in recent years, even when trauma is not the main focus of service, training of all professional, administrative, and secretarial staff is essential to transform an agency to become trauma-informed. One vehicle for training the professional staff is supervision designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of practitioners who provide services to clients who have experience trauma. This article discusses how the principles and strategies of supervision can be adapted and applied to foster the professional and personal growth of practitioners and enhance their mastery of trauma-informed care. Supervision of trauma-informed care shares with other types of supervision the major components of educational, support, and administrative guidance and oversight. However, because constant interaction with traumatized clients may have negative effects on practitioners, some elements of trauma-informed practice supervision require special attention. The article has 3 parts. First, we discuss the goals, nature, and educational, supportive, and administrative functions of supervision in the healing professions. We then review basic assumptions of traumainformed practice, specifically, safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment. Third, we identify personal and agency-related challenges and risks to practitioners in learning and executing trauma work and analyze the protective function of supervision in addressing these challenges. We present principles for effective supervision that enhance the ability of practitioners to provide traumainformed services and decrease their risks for vicarious traumatization (i.e., trauma reactions caused by interaction with those directly exposed to traumatic events). Finally, we describe an illustrative case example and suggest directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-301
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2014


  • Healing professions
  • Mental health
  • Supervision
  • Trauma-informed practice
  • Vicarious traumatization


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