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<aside> ℹ️ TL;DR Becoming trauma-informed is about recognising the prevalence and impact of trauma on people’s minds, bodies and spirits. It is about supporting healing interpersonally and systemically. We put trauma-awareness and healing into practice in co-design through creating environments where people can feel safe enough, visible and validated in their experiences.

In trauma-informed practice, we focus on different layers. In small circles, we focus on healing relationships and positive interactions. In bigger circles, we focus on growing trauma-informed organisations, movements and communities. Bigger yet, we work towards transforming broader systems of oppression.

Co-design is not therapy and designers cannot act as therapists or work with significant trauma. Co-design should aim to be 'safe enough' for people to learn and share together. If you have a resource to contribute, please get in touch.

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This page includes a collection of books and resources, as well as observations from my participatory design practice about where designers can 'stumble' into unnecessarily triggering people or undermining their recovery.

Must read: Practicing Without a License: Design Research as Psychotherapy by Tad Hirsch

Practicing Without a License: Design Research as Psychotherapy

What is trauma? Pat Odgen explains:

Any experience that is stressful enough to leave us feeling helpless, frightened, overwhelmed or profoundly unsafe is considered trauma." (2015, p. 66)

When people don’t feel safe or valued, they can’t stay included even if they want to. Neither can they reliably access their creativity, memories or ability to trust others enough to work with them. Traumatised people tend to be excluded from co-design when we assume that commercial design methods will work equally well in social design settings (they do not).

Insights and solutions will always be weaker when we miss the perspectives of people with lived experience who are prevented from sharing their views and ideas. Often, that’s where the most learning comes from – if we know how to listen to it.

In co-design, sharing trauma is not required

Engage Victoria explain the difference between traditional approaches and trauma-informed approaches in the table below:

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🧰 Tools and resources

If you use the resources below - please do so with intention and respect, citing each resource fully in your work.

Must read: Practicing Without a License: Design Research as Psychotherapy by Tad Hirsch

Practicing Without a License: Design Research as Psychotherapy

Here are some books and references: B