Reflective Practice; An Essential Approach in Trauma-Informed Care

June 30, 2024

Reflective practice is a dynamic and essential component of trauma-informed care (Lilienfeld & Basterfield, 2020). It offers a deeper, more meaningful approach to understanding and improving care for trauma survivors. Reflective practice fosters an acute self-awareness among professionals, which is vital in trauma-informed care. By engaging in reflective practice, it is possible to identify emotional triggers and potential biases that might influence our interactions (Thompson and Thompson, 2023). For example, a professional might recognise a personal discomfort around issues like anger or withdrawal, which could affect how they respond to similar displays of emotion from clients. This awareness is crucial, as it prevents the caregiver’s own experiences and reactions from overshadowing the client's needs or re-traumatising them. Furthermore, this self-reflection helps professionals maintain a clear boundary between personal feelings and professional responsibilities, ensuring that care is always client-centred.

Through reflective practice, we can achieve a deeper empathy for those we support. This requires deep critical thinking about each client interaction and considering the client’s trauma background when interpreting their behaviours and needs (Donati, 2016). Reflective practice helps us not only recognise but also anticipate the needs of those in our care, which can lead to more effective and tailored support strategies. Every interaction in the realm of education, healthcare and social services is a learning opportunity, particularly in settings that involve trauma (McDermott et al., 2018). The work we do is a real privilege, but through reflective practice, we are able to remain aware of the impact that this could have on ourselves. Reflection in itself is a coping mechanism, helping with the processing of experiences, identifying stressors, and seeking support when needed. By regularly reflecting on our emotions, we can better manage our stress and prevent burnout whilst also taking our practice to the next level.

To effectively integrate reflective practice into our work, we can:

1. Schedule Reflection Time: Allocate regular times for reflection, such as after critical incidents or at the end of the week, to discuss what happened, what was effective, and what could be improved.

2. Reflective Supervision: Ensure that supervision sessions include components of reflective practice where staff can openly discuss their feelings and experiences regarding their work.

3. Training Workshops: Conduct workshops that focus not only on skills but also on processing personal reactions and emotions related to working in trauma-informed environments.

4. Peer Reflection Groups: Create peer reflection groups that meet regularly to share experiences and discuss challenging cases in a supportive setting.

By weaving reflective practice into the fabric of trauma-informed care, as professionals we can enhance our ability to provide compassionate, effective, and responsive care to those they serve. This not only improves client outcomes but also enriches the professional experience, leading to more satisfied, capable, and resilient practitioners.


Donati, M. (2016). Becoming a reflective practitioner. The handbook of counselling psychology4.

Lilienfeld, S. O., & Basterfield, C. (2020). Reflective practice in clinical psychology: Reflections from basic psychological science. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice27(4), 220.

McDermott, H., Husbands, A., & Brooks-Lewis, L. (2018). Collaborative team reflective practice in trauma service to improve health care. Journal of Trauma Nursing25(6), 374-380.

Thompson, S., & Thompson, N. (2023). The critically reflective practitioner. Bloomsbury Publishing.

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