“Empowered and Driven to Help”: Learning about Childhood Trauma During Preservice Training


  • Shana DeVlieger University of Pittsburgh https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3742-6315
  • Luciano Dolcini-Catania University of Pittsburgh
  • Jennifer Willford Slippery Rock University
  • Robert Gallen University of Pittsburgh




preservice, training, teaching, higher education, childhood trauma, qualitative, teachers, children, learning, motivation, psychological safety, resilience, student, perspectives, descriptive


Preservice trauma-focused training is one promising, yet presently understudied, opportunity to promote healing and wellbeing across child-serving fields. Additional research is needed to inform the implementation of trauma-focused learning within preservice training programs. While scholars offer theories regarding how to integrate trauma-focused learning, student perspectives remain virtually absent from the conversation. Student perspectives are essential for informing responsive and sustainable adoption. They are particularly relevant, given the unique nature of trauma-focused learning, the prevalence of trauma exposure, and the risks of adverse reactions (e.g., retraumatization). In this descriptive study, we qualitatively analyzed students’ reflections on experiences engaging in trauma-focused learning activities in one course, using dissemination and implementation science frameworks. Findings highlight four learning activities and essential characteristics that promote healthy engagement, learning, and motivation to apply insights to future work with trauma-affected children. Implications for higher education are discussed.


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How to Cite

DeVlieger, S., Dolcini-Catania, L., Willford, J., & Gallen, R. (2023). “Empowered and Driven to Help”: Learning about Childhood Trauma During Preservice Training. Journal of Trauma Studies in Education, 2(1), 79–107. https://doi.org/10.32674/jtse.v2i1.4735



Research Papers