Teaching Trauma: A Model for Introducing Traumatic Materials in the Classroom


  • Jessica D. Cless Kansas State University
  • Briana S. Nelson Goff Kansas State University




Trauma-informed, teaching, higher education


niversity courses in disciplines such as social work, family studies, humanities, and other areas often use classroom materials that contain traumatic material (Barlow & Becker-Blease, 2012). While many recommendations based on trauma theory exist for instructors at the university level, these are often made in the context of clinical training programs, rather than at the undergraduate level across disciplines. Furthermore, no organized model exists to aid instructors in developing a trauma-informed pedagogy for teaching courses on traumatic stress, violence, and other topics that may pose a risk for secondary traumatic stress in the classroom (Kostouros, 2008). This paper seeks to bridge the gap between trauma theory and implementation of sensitive content in classrooms of higher education, and presents a model of trauma-informed teaching that was developed in the context of an undergraduate trauma studies program. Implications and future directions for research in the area of trauma-informed university classrooms are discussed. 


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