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Challenging approaches to trauma with social pedagogy

St Christopher’s provided a workshop at the 8th European Conference for Social Work Research on using a social pedagogic approach to trauma-informed care for young people. This year the conference took place in Edinburgh and was attended by professionals from all over Europe.

Our approach to working with children and young people is based on social pedagogic principles. We use a strengths-based system to empower our young people and staff, and are keen to share how this shift in our work has transformed our practice.

The session critiqued contemporary constructions of trauma and the way new understandings of childhood trauma can occlude other perspectives on children’s experiences. Speakers aimed to:

  • show attendees the evidence base for the impact of development trauma
  • reconnect them with their own experience and expertise
  • view their role through a social pedagogic lens

There are risks involved in assuming ‘damage’ has been caused by trauma, which leads to a deficit-focus approach. This can lead to a number of undesired outcomes: disempowering workers, who feel they lack the ‘expertise’ to care for children who have experienced abuse and neglect; and labelling children negatively, which can affect development of their identity and cause self-esteem issues.

By disputing the view that ‘specialist’ help is needed to help a child process trauma, workers feel more empowered to provide strengths-based, trauma-informed care through the everyday relationships they have with young people.

For more information or resources on social pedagogy in practice, visit the Social Pedagogy Professional Association website or get in touch with us directly.