Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Shannon Suldo, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mario Hernandez, Ph.D.


adverse childhood experiences, secondary trauma, stress, trauma-sensitive, trigger, vicarious trauma, professional development


Historically, teachers have been primarily focused on fostering the academic success and progress of their students. Over the years, the role of a teacher has evolved to also encompass meeting the behavioral and social-emotional needs of their students as well. Students with difficulties in these areas are often at-risk for struggling academically and may make limited progress without adequate social-emotional or behavioral support. Unfortunately, many teacher training programs have not adequately prepared their educators to fulfill this need. This is especially concerning because of the growing number of youths who have adverse childhood experiences, which is exposure to traumatic events (e.g., witnessing domestic violence, parental incarceration) before the age of 17. Exposure to traumatic events in childhood has neurobiological consequences, which can in turn have negative implications on a child’s ability to regulate their emotions and function in school. With limited access to mental health therapists, this growing problem calls for a different approach for meeting the needs of our youth. For this reason, schools across the country are learning how to educate within a trauma-informed care framework. Under this framework, educators have an increased awareness of the pervasiveness of trauma, how to recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma, and how to create an environment of safety, transparency, predictability, voice, and choice. This study evaluated a program at a local school district that provided professional development to educators about trauma-informed care. Archival data from the 2018-2019 school year was analyzed to examine changes in educator attitudes related to trauma-informed care and changes in perceived global knowledge about trauma-informed care in educational settings. Overall, there was a significant main effect for an increase in participants perceived global knowledge about trauma-informed care in educational settings from pre- to post-training, but also but also a decrease in participants’ self-efficacy at work on a measure of attitudes related to trauma-informed care. There were no moderation effects for changes in attitudes related to trauma-informed care as a function of prior perceived global knowledge about trauma-informed care in educational settings. Implications for educators and contributions to the literature will be discussed.