Practitioner Restorative Stories
About the Practitioner
Karen and her team have designed a framework to assist schools to understand how adversity and trauma impacts their students and respond in a way that is supportive.The framework is structured around International Trauma-Informed Practice Principles for Schools (ITIPPS). These Principles were generated by extracting common themes from existing trauma programs and surveying experts to help finalise the wording and definitions.
Involvement in the Thoughtful Schools Program involves the school reviewing their environment using the Thoughtful Schools Checklist in order to understand how trauma-informed it is. Schools then develop a plan to focus on strategies for them to become as trauma-informed as possible.This work is supported by a guidebook which provides a list of evidence-based and expert-informed strategies to assist schools to embed the Trauma-informed Practice Principles into their policies and practices.
The structure of the Program enables the school to develop, individualised, place based, culturally appropriate and context specific strategies to support children who have experienced trauma and adversity.
When Karen was researching physical activity in schools in 2005, she realised that children's behaviour was an issue schools struggled to respond to in a way that was supportive.
As she evaluated the DRUMBEAT program for disengaged young people in schools she recognised the clear association between the stress they were under and their behaviour. The school staff explained the challenges they faced in supporting these children.
This observation, and work with an inspiring school psychologist, led Karen to believe there was a universal need for schools to understand the impact of adversity, trauma and stress on children. Her research into the topic led her to understand the importance of trauma-informed practice and how important it is to understand what causes difficult and unhealthy behaviour in children and the need to lower children's stress levels. Karen began to work with a group of school leaders, teachers and psychologists in order to develop a framework to address the issue.
Along the journey, her team has received support from both government and philanthropic organisations.
Karen has conducted research into supportive environments in primary and secondary schools for two decades.
She is part of a multi disciplinary team supported by the University of Western Australia which works across sectors including education, community and health.
The team is currently evaluating the impact of the Thoughtful Schools Program in Western Australian schools.
- Academic - lecturer,
- Academic - researcher
- ATSI health and well being
- Culture change
- Education - University
- Human rights
- Policy development
- Program development
- Reflective practice
- Rights of people with disabilities
- Rights of those experiencing mental ill health
- School - K-12
- Workplace Training