Emerging Minds

Supporting children who have experienced trauma

About the course

This course aims to use trauma-informed practice to study the detail and skills of therapeutic engagement, from working with reluctant children to identifying their resilience and strengths, helping them move past self-blame and hopelessness.

The course focuses particularly on the early stages of engagement, acknowledging that children who have experienced trauma are often ambivalent or anxious about sharing their stories. It explores five perspective shifts that practitioners can use to demonstrate curious and collaborative practices with children and their families, supporting them as they experience therapeutic engagement in new ways, and helping them value their strengths, know-how and stories of resilience.


Module one: Working towards authentic partnerships

Module One will examine some key perspective shifts that practitioners can implement to place the child at the centre of all practice engagement.

Module two: Developing the partnership

Building on the five practitioner shifts described in Module One, this module explores how these shifts can be used throughout specific stages of engagement with a child.

Who is this course for?

This course is designed for practitioners who work specifically with children who have experienced trauma. This includes GPs, paediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists, allied health professionals, child protection workers, social workers, child mental health practitioners and specialist counsellors.

Learning aims

As you progress through this course, you will reflect upon the elements of your own practice which include:

  • how to incorporate five practitioner shifts within your practice to help children engage fully with you and begin to overcome the effects of trauma
  • how to begin a conversation with children and/or their parents who have experienced trauma
  • how to develop intent and purpose in your sessions with children (providing opportunities for the child to discuss the trauma while still moving at their own pace)
  • how to work with a child who is reluctant or ambivalent about attending your service
  • how to offer the child a place to stand regarding their experience of trauma – identifying their skills, resilience, and acts of protest
  • how to check in with the child about how the process is working for them
  • how you can notice your own worries or concerns in this work, and how this can affect your confidence or curiosity.


As you work through the course, it is important to be aware of your own emotional responses. Exploring children’s experiences of trauma and adversity can be really difficult: seek help if needed.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • We do not recommend undertaking the entire course in one sitting. Give yourself some breaks. Even if you don't feel like you need a break, it’s a good idea to take one anyway and come back later.
  • Be aware of your emotions as you progress through the course and take action if you are starting to feel stressed or upset: consider doing something for yourself that you enjoy, or spend some time with friends, family or others that care about you.
  • Be aware of your emotions after the course is completed.

If you find you are struggling, please talk with your supervisor, seek help, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263.


In this course, the term 'trauma' refers to inter-personal trauma that children experience, most commonly including child abuse (physical, emotional or sexual), control, coercion, threats or fear. It also includes trauma that children experience through witnessing adult control or violence, or through situations where their safety is undermined by continued neglect.

For the purpose of this course, the term ‘parent’ encompasses the biological and adoptive parents of a child, as well as individuals who have chosen to take up a primary or shared responsibility in raising that child.

Social and emotional wellbeing
'Social and emotional wellbeing' refers to the way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others. It incorporates behavioural and emotional strengths and is integral to child development.1

In broad terms, social and emotional wellbeing is the foundation for physical and mental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is a holistic concept which results from a network of relationships between individuals, family, kin and Community. It also recognises the importance of connection to Land, culture, spirituality and ancestry, and how these affect the individual.

‘Social and emotional wellbeing’ is also used by some people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, who may have differing concepts of mental health and mental illness.

Social and emotional development
‘Social and emotional development’ involves the development of skills required to:

  • identify and understand one’s feelings
  • read and understand the emotional states of other people
  • manage strong emotions and how they are expressed
  • regulate behaviour
  • develop empathy; and
  • establish and maintain relationships.2


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). Social and emotional wellbeing: Development of a Children’s Headline Indicator. Cat. no. PHE 158. Canberra: AIHW.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2009). A picture of Australia’s children 2009. Cat. no. PHE 112. Canberra: AIHW.

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