Toolkit for Service Providers Sheds Light on Youth Trauma, Resilience

A smiling young woman.

Even if you’re new to the youth work field, you’ve probably seen the impact of traumatic events like abuse or serious illness on the young people you serve. Before an agency can truly provide trauma-informed care, employees need to understand the basics of trauma and how it shapes teens’ bodies and brains.

In San Francisco, the Adolescent Health Working Group has published “Trauma & Resilience: An Adolescent Provider Toolkit” to build knowledge around trauma and resilience, and how programs can adjust their approach to care. With support from the Tides Project, the 64-page toolkit is the last in a six-part series addressing the intersection of health and violence.

The online resource is divided into the following three sections:

  • Trauma. In section one, readers learn the basics about trauma and the key terms used to discuss different levels of exposure. Young people might face a single traumatic event like a painful medical procedure, for example, or experience chronic trauma after going through multiple events over long periods of time. The section also includes the Professional Quality of Life Scale, which staff can use to assess their levels of compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress. 
  • Resilience. The second section encourages service providers to adopt a strengths-based approach to working with youth with trauma histories, in order to promote healing instead of focusing on symptoms or challenges. In this vein, the authors include a list of 40 developmental strengths adolescents can draw upon to bolster their resilience. There is also a “resilience pyramid” detailing the skills each young person needs to thrive, such as identifying and managing emotions.
  • Care. In addition to providing a short primer on trauma-informed care, the tookit's third section includes a guide for responding to youths’ behavior with rewards and consequences instead of punishment and a list of ways to be culturally sensitive. For example, agencies can provide interpreter services so youth can share their thoughts and feelings in their first language.

​The toolkit closes with a six-page section that provides information about evidence-based and promising approaches like trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy and somatic experiencing. Readers will learn the basic goals and components behind each approach, and where they can go for additional information.

Access the toolkit on the Adolescent Health Working Group website. (It’s the first option under “AHWG’s Provider Toolkit Series.”) 

More on Trauma and Its Impact on Youth and Youth Workers

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Self-Care for Youth Workers

Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, the Family and Youth Services Bureau, or the Administration for Children and Families.

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