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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teacher perspectives on trauma-informed practices in rural schools Anderson, Eliah


Youth in rural areas experience high rates of trauma exposure yet very few studies have explored specific mental health interventions for this population (James et al., 2017). Schools have long been identified as an ideal location to provide mental health supports (Rones & Hoagwood, 2000), and trauma-informed practices have been shown as an effective treatment for a range of trauma-related symptoms within the school setting (Nadeem et al., 2011). While trauma-informed practices are gaining in popularity, few research studies have explored the role of teachers in actualizing a trauma-informed educational approach. Rural areas have less access to professional mental health supports so that teachers and the broader school system have an opportunity to fill an essential void in providing youth mental health supports. In this study elementary school teacher perspectives on trauma-informed practices in rural areas of Alaska were explored, focusing on the specific strengths and challenges that these unique schools have in implementing the trauma-informed practices. A convergent, mixed methods design was used (Creswell, 2009) with an online survey (N=88) and individual interviews (N=6). Results from the survey revealed that teachers value the importance of trauma-informed practices, have received mixed levels of training, and feel somewhat to very prepared supporting trauma-affected students. From the thematic analysis, four overarching themes and 16 subthemes were identified, in which teachers identified key strengths and challenges of supporting trauma-affected students within their rural schools.

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