Scroll Top

Identifying Trauma

Recognizing the signs of trauma is an important part of trauma-informed and responsive (TIR) care. There are many benefits to identifying children affected by traumatic experiences. Identifying trauma is an opportunity to:

  • Understand some of the root causes of a child’s behavioral and physical health concerns
  • Reduce some of the long-term impacts of childhood trauma
  • Improve families’ engagement in services
  • Prevent staff burnout and turnover
  • Reduce stigma on the impact of trauma and discuss common misconceptions

These pages will help you incorporate trauma identification into your overall trauma-responsive practices. Knowing the signs of trauma is an important first step. However, identifying trauma without engaging families and connecting them to supports can be harmful. To minimize harm and promote healing, use the sections below to strengthen how you identify and support children with trauma.

Establish a trauma-informed and responsive (TIR) environment:
From case management to workforce development and funding, TIR policies and practices help you help families who’ve experienced trauma.
Recognize the signs of trauma:
There are many approaches to trauma identification—which ones work best will depend on your organization’s capacity, preferences, and programs.
Engage children and their caregivers:
Organizations are in the best position to identify and support children impacted by trauma when they engage families in a strength-based and culturally sensitive way.
Consider all of a child’s trauma-related needs:

Trauma can negatively affect a child’s mind, body, and relationships, so it’s important to identify supports that meet their behavioral, physical, and relational health needs.

Connect the family to needed services:
In trauma-informed and responsive care, identification and referral go together. Once you learn that a child is impacted by trauma, you must connect the family to services that could help them heal.