Trauma-Informed Practices

Lessons from Trauma-informed Mindful Compassion Practices
Marilee Bresciani Ludvik, Ph.D.

It comes as no surprise that the students we serve are experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety. Liu and colleague’s (2019) research “point to an urgent need for service utilization strategies, especially among racial/ethnic, sexual, or gender minorities. Campuses must consider student experiences to mitigate stress during this developmental period” (p.1) is a call that can’t be ignored.  Many campus leaders are seeking to implement specific ways to heighten students’ sense of belonging and safety as well as reduce their stress and anxiety in- and out-of- the classroom.  Mindful compassion practices show promising effects in alleviating stress and anxiety, however they can also potentially have negative impact on mental health and wellbeing when implemented without a heightened awareness of well-researched trauma informed practices (Kang et al, 2018; Magyari, 2016; Treleaven, 2018, Rothschild, 2017).

What follows are a few of the trauma-informed mindful compassion practices that you may consider implementing in your in-and out-of-classroom learning and development opportunities.

(Click on practice link for instructions)

  1.  Assume there is trauma in your presence.
  2. Co-Create the Container for Learning and Development.
  3. Invite Students to Opt-in and Opt-out of Pair and Shares.
  4. Identify well-being resources (internal and external) that can Re-Source students when they become dysregulated.
  5. Invite students to safely inquire into what they notice when they are in their emotion regulation process.
  6. Begin learning and development experiences with the invitation to engage in grounding exercises.
  7. Give permission to regulate the arousal system in a way that honors students’ survival skills. 
  8. Invite Students to Use an Arousal Scale from 1-10.
  9. Inviting in Other Anchors of Attention.
  10. Compassionate-Mind Model Check-In

There are many other trauma-informed practices, specifically those drawn from mindful compassion work, that we can invite into our in- and out-of-classroom settings empowering our students to safely care for themselves, while we work to reform the systems where they may not feel they belong.   I am happy to share those with you so feel free to email me if you are interested.  In the meantime, I invite you to consider that the very fact we are re-designing our learning and development spaces to be compassionately mindful of our students who have experienced trauma is a powerful step toward that transformational process.

Do you want to use the hearts in your classroom? Simply email us  to learn how to get your colorful, laminated, card stock heart trauma-informed messages.


Fani, Tayebeh&Ghaemi, Farid. (2011). Implications of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) in Teacher Education: ZPTD and Self-scaffolding. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. 29. 1549-1554. 10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.11.396.

Kang, Y., Rahrig, H., Eichel, K., Niles, H.F., Rocha, T.,  Lepp. N.E., Gold, J., and Britton, W.B. (2018). Gender Differences in Response to a School-Based Mindfulness Training Intervention for Early Adolescents. Journal of School Psychology, 68, 63-176.

Liu CH, Stevens C, Wong SHM, Yasui M, Chen JA. (2019). The prevalence and predictors of mental health diagnoses and suicide among U.S. college students: Implications for addressing disparities in service use. Depress Anxiety. 36(1):8-17.PMID: 30188598.

Magyari, T. (2016) Teaching Individuals with Traumatic Stress: Applying a Trauma-Informed Framework to Teaching MBIs. In McCown, D., Reibel, D., and Micozzi, MS (eds).Resources for Teaching Mindfulness: An International Handbook. New York.

Neff, K &Germer, C. (2018). The mindful self-compassion handbook. Guilford Press: New York.

TreLeaven, D. A. (2018). Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing. WW Norton & Company: New York.

Rothschild, B. (2017). The body remembers volume 2: Revolutionizing trauma treatment. WW Norton& Company: New York.