Trauma-Informed Social Work and Mindfulness

The heart of the social work profession calls for treating clients with respect and not viewing their problems as pathological. Consistent with this value, trauma-informed social work as a model encourages social workers to explore with clients how behaviors and/or problems that surface may be a result of traumatic events (Kawam & Martinez, 2016). It focuses not simply on symptom management but on skill building (Wilson & Nochajski, 2016). This model can be incorporated into both micro, mezzo, and macro work. For example, on an organizational level, trauma-informed care looks to see how the service delivery system can offer an environment that is safe for clients, social workers, and staff.

Based on Buddhist principles, mindfulness interventions focus on helping clients to increase their attunement and acceptance of the self (Cacciatore, Thieleman, Osborn, & Orlowski, 2014). Because social workers often try to help clients reduce distress and increase well-being, mindfulness has found its way into social work. It can also be used for social workers to increase their own well-being as part of their self-care regimen.

This week, you apply two more models: trauma-informed social work and mindfulness.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Apply the trauma-informed and mindfulness principles to social work practice
  • Apply existential questions to identify potential opportunities for growth that may surface as a result of working with clients who have experienced trauma
  • Evaluate empirical research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness interventions
  • Evaluate the strength and limitations of trauma-informed and mindfulness principles to social work practice

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Readings

Turner, F. J. (Ed.). (2017). Social work treatment: Interlocking theoretical approaches (6th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Chapter 20: Mindfulness and Social Work (pp. 325–337)
Chapter 37: Trauma-Informed Social Work Treatment and Complex Trauma (pp. 553–573)

Garland, E. L. (2013). Mindfulness research in social work: Conceptual and methodological recommendations. Social Work Research, 37(4), 439–448.

Vis, J.-A. & Boynton, H. M. (2008). Spirituality and transcendent meaning making: Possibilities for enhancing posttraumatic growth. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work, 27(1/2): 69–86.

UCLA Health. (n.d.). Free guided meditations. Retrieved December 8, 2017, from

For Discussion 2, listen to a guided meditation by selecting a link on this website.