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Step 4: Design a Trauma-Informed Physical Environment

Physical environments should be designed with the needs and abilities of the individuals using the space in mind, and regularly re-evaluated with input from youth, families and staff members.

Aspects of the physical environment to consider include:

Lighting, color, noise, smell, and temperature.

Seating options (comfort, accessibility for all types of bodies, etc.), a dedicated play space for very young children, and direct access to exits.

Language accessibility, as well as the images, amount, and tone of language on signage, posters, and magazines.

Availability of patient bills of rights and/or privacy, billing, and confidentiality policies.

Availability of private spaces for youth and families to have conversations with staff members and/or regroup after a triggering event.

A clean, inviting, and healthy atmosphere providing respect for the diverse needs (e.g. cultural, linguistic, gender, religious, etc.) of clients and staff.

teenager in a bad mood

Organizations that do work outside of a physical office (e.g. making home visits, responding to calls for police attention) should consider the impact of all of the above when doing field work, as well.

It’s also important to take the time to understand any specific triggers or traumatic reminders for individual children and make changes in the environment to the extent possible and appropriate.

A group of people sit in a circle an laugh together during a group therapy session.
Chalk drawing of bar graph, and data statics on blackboard. It shows profits, gains, and growth with increasing data.