The core curriculum on childhood trauma: A tool for training a trauma-informed workforce

Christopher M. Layne, Chandra Ghosh Ippen, Virginia Strand, Margaret Stuber, Robert Abramovitz, Gilbert Reyes, Lisa Amaya Jackson, Leslie Ross, Amy Curtis, Laura Lipscomb, Robert Pynoos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Recognition of the nationwide high prevalence of psychological trauma in children and adolescents, combined with increasing awareness of the far-reaching adverse consequences of childhood trauma, have led to calls to develop a trauma-informed mental health workforce. We describe the initial pilot test of the Core Concepts portion of the Core Curriculum on Childhood Trauma, as conducted in a large graduate school of social work. The Core Curriculum uses detailed case vignettes of trauma-exposed youth and families, combined with problem-based learning methods, to promote two primary learning aims: (a) to enhance the development of foundational trauma-related conceptual knowledge, and (b) to accelerate the acquisition of trauma-informed clinical reasoning and clinical judgment. Vignettes are presented in segments to simulate gathering, organizing, drawing meaning from, and making decisions based on information in professional practice. After each segment, the facilitator helps learners to summarize relevant facts, develop hunches and hypotheses, identify learning issues, and plan next steps. The Curriculum was very favorably received by students and was associated with marked increases in self-efficacy in applying the Core Concepts to work with trauma-exposed youth and families. We discuss ways in which the Curriculum can be used, especially as a foundation for training in specific evidence-based treatment protocols, to help prepare a national mental health workforce capable of implementing trauma-informed evidence-based practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-252
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • clinical reasoning
  • clinical training
  • evidence-based practice
  • problem-based learning
  • trauma


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