Trauma Informed Practice Modules: Neurobiology, SSHARED, and Mental Health System


A growing number of human services professionals have come to recognize the importance of trauma in the lives of families seen by child welfare service agencies, as well as the need for social work and other practitioners to recognize the signs of prior trauma as manifested in the behavior of children and other family members. Such trauma may derive from numerous experiences: the effects of inter- generational poverty, institutional racism, community violence, as well as interpersonal trauma and violence within and among families.

Increasingly, intervention programs and human service agencies have strived to design protocols and interventions to identify and sensitively address such prior trauma in working with affected children and families.  At the same time in California, the recent Katie A. settlement agreements and the emerging Practice Model have given increasing attention to the mental health needs of children seen by state and county child welfare agencies. As a result, university-level curriculum resources that impart a working knowledge of trauma and its effects on children and families are critical for the education of newer social workers as well as more experienced staff.

Given the increasing recognition of the importance of providing social services from a trauma informed perspective, the California Social Work Education Center together with Holly Vugia, PhD, LCSW, PPSC at California State University, East Bay worked to develop a set of modules for use in multiple contexts.  Versions of the resources are available for use in face-to-face, hybrid, or online courses, or for use as a self-study professional development resource.  Aimed at public child welfare (PCW) audiences, the following three modules relate to trauma informed practice delivery. The material is designed for future or current PCW workers, with a sophistication level designed to be accessible to beginning master’s level students.

Curriculum Purpose

Purpose: To impart essential Trauma-informed knowledge base and practice principles to future public child welfare (PCW) social workers, with the goal of informing their practice and deepening their understanding of the manifestations and effects of trauma in child and family practice.

Intended Audience: MSW level social work students and PCW social work practitioners, as well  as social work educators and trainers.

Explanation of Available Resources

What is provided?

Materials have been organized into three topic-specific modules: 

  • Neurobiology of Trauma
  • SSHARED: a Tool for Identifying Signs & Sequelae of Trauma
  • Trauma Advocacy with Mental Health Systems (MHS)

Each module includes: 

  1. An Instructor's Guide with an outline of the presentation
  2. Presentation slides with notes (available in PowerPoint only)
  3. Downloadable handout documents with key information
  4. Quiz questions for use as formative- or self-assessments

*Additional Notes from the Author: 

  • Documents are provided in WORD and PPT formats to allow for ease of editing by reviewers and instructors, as well as for enhanced accessibility by assisted technology.  
  • Audio voice over is not included as originally intended, due to feedback from preliminary viewing by instructors and students—a stated preference to not have this function. 
  • Classroom piloting of the PPT presentations could not be scheduled until April 6, 2016, at which time any significant feedback or revisions will be incorporated into a newer version available via this same url.  The pilot audience will include first and second year Masters of Social Work Title IV-E students at California State University, East Bay (CSUEB). 

Available Media Formats for each Module

Each module bundle is available in three unique formats, corresponding to several common teaching-learning contexts in which they may be used: 

Use ContextResources Provided
Face-to-Face class sessionInstructor's Guide (.doc)
Presentation slides (.ppt)
Key Info handouts (.doc)
Quiz questions (.doc)
Hybrid (online & in-person)Instructor's Guide (.doc)
Presentation slides (.ppt)
Interactive Slides, Quiz & Handouts (hyperlink)
Quiz questions for use in LMS (zipped XML files)
Fully OnlineSCORM 1.2 package with all module contents (zipped folder)

Face-to-Face context

In the first use context, a face-to-face course, all content is provided in .doc or .ppt format for downloading and offline use.  The Power Point presentation contains lecture notes and references to the associated printable handouts. Quiz questions are available in document format for printed distribution during a class session.

Hybrid context

In the second context, a hybrid course in which some percentage of instruction or activity occurs online, there are two additional resources.  An interactive, web-based version of all the content (i.e., slides, handouts, and quiz questions) can be accessed via a hyperlink.  This option would allow a learner to view all content in one place, as a self-study or self-assessment resource for example.  NOTE: quiz results in this version are only available to the learner immediately after submitting responses.  Alternatively, access to the slides and the quiz can be provided inside an LMS (using the XML file option), allowing an instructor to view a learner's responses and final score. 

Fully Online context

In the third use context, as a fully online module / course, content is available as a SCORM package.  Using the resource as a SCORM package enables an instructor to upload the full, interactive module to a Learning Management System (LMS), grant private access to it, and record learner performance via the LMS gradebook.   NOTE: the module will look identical to the version of the module provided for hybrid use via a hyperlink.

Return to top