Adverse Childhood Experiences and Trauma Informed Practice Across the Lifespan

Welcome to information about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and their potential impact across the lifespan. Concepts and strategies of Trauma Informed Practice (TIP) will be examined that will be relevant to all practitioners in social care and social work as well as health, justice, education, community and voluntary sectors.


The content on this page has been developed to support and enhance individual and organisational practice and policy development. It includes the importance of promotion of health and well-being for both staff and service users. It has links to websites, documents and other resources which will complement and enhance awareness of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Trauma Informed Practice (TIP).

The research clearly demonstrates a higher risk to physcial and psychological trauma across the lifespan in the absence of mitigating factors (Bells, 2017). Early intervention is the most effective strategy however, even in a person's latter years, recovery from the impact of ACEs and trauma can be supported through a compassionate response and resilience can be built. Hope is a key factor both in people who receive services and in the workforce. 

As a workforce providing essential services we need to recognise the parallels between those who use our services and ourselves; challenging existing practice, examining those parts of the system that need to change, transforming whole systems collaboratively to achieve the high level outcomes as defined in ‘Draft Programme for Government 2016-2021 framework’ (Northern Ireland Executive) in order to effectively support a healthy Northern Ireland (NI) community.

We hope the resources you find here will encourage you to read more about ACEs and their potential impact upon children, consider your practice and seek support to become more trauma informed. We are on a journey and can all contribute to Northern Ireland becoming trauma informed. Social Care should have a lead role in this.

Scroll down to access the resources.

If you need any help/support using this resource, please contact the Social Care Council at

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Published 14 May 2020

Background of the EITP Trauma Informed Practice Project


Click here to find out about the background of the EITP Trauma Informed Practice Project.

Click here to access ACEs Project – Developing an ACE aware and Trauma Sensitive/Informed Workforce - a presentation delivered at a Northern Ireland Social Care Council Lunch time seminar.

Raising Awareness of ACEs


Click here to find out more about raising awareness of ACEs.

Click here to access HSC Learning resources Level 1 online course on Adverse Childhood Experiences Awareness (approximately 45 mins) providing an introduction to ACEs for anyone providing social care services.

Click here to access the ACEs Trauma Information Practice leaflet - which summaries key messages from the online training.

Click here to acess the Trauma LENS Card - this is adapted from Public Health Wales and Barnardos and is a reflective tool designed to 

  • support workers to pause and consider what they are observing in the service user,
  • reflect and try to make sense of this,
  • consider the needs of the person and then what
  • think what support, signposting or safeguarding may be required.

Looking through a ‘Trauma Lens’ informs our practice and is referred to throughout the resources developed and training and practice in using it are encouraged.

NI ACE Animation


Click on the image to see the NI ACE Animation - to enhance your understanding of ACEs.

Developing Trauma Sensitive Practice


Having understood the key issues about ACEs and their potential impact the HSC Learning Centre level 2 - Developing a Trauma Sensitive Approach to Practice  module builds upon that knowledge and addresses the basic skills anyone can use to respond appropriately to a person who may have experienced trauma. It also explores staff issues and needs in more depth. Becoming sensitive to trauma and how it may present in people’s behaviours is part of the journey to becoming trauma informed. (You will need to register for this module. Talk to your manager for guidance).

Help me make sense of the world – Understanding the impact of trauma on brain development resource supports the learning within this module showing how our developing understanding of brain development can enhance the approaches we take and the skills we use.

To support resilience in individuals and families we need to provide services in a systemic way. The Integrating Family Approaches: How knowledge of ACEs, Trauma, Signs of Safety, Building Better Futures and Think Family NI can collectively support compassionate and effective practice leaflet outlines the core principles of current approaches that inform how practitioners (from a range of disciplines) can effectively work with families. It shows, through a family’s narrative, practitioners using approaches, models and processes which support the needs of the individuals in the family - and the family as a unit - at different times and in different ways. In a simple way it illustrates how knowledge of these approaches and models all inform the practitioner and can complement each other:

Further ACEs and TIP Training


As part of the EITP TIP project’s commitment to sustaining the workforce in its understanding of trauma - the following online training module was purchased from the Solihull Approach (Heart of England Trust).

This is a detailed module which is of approximately 4 hours duration. This will provide you with:

  • detailed understanding of the potential impact of trauma,
  • its theoretical basis and
  • how to apply it to practice.

It is not essential that you have completed foundation Solihull Approach training but that may be helpful.

Click here to learn about the online Solihull Approach Understanding Trauma module.

Click here to learn about free online course for Parents and Parents-to-be.

Staff Well-Being and Self-Care


A key aspect of becoming a trauma informed organisation includes addressing the needs of their entire workforce. Elements about staff stress, and own experiences of adversity in childhood and the impact they may have are included in the online modules and the complete training that can be accessed however, in addition many organisations have strategies and policies and services that strive to support their staff. It is important that we are all aware of what is available within our organisations and also what is available in the broader community.

Below are links to useful resources and websites but you should also explore your organisation’s website firstly, as there may be supports and services that you are not aware of.

Click here to access Steps for Stress 

Click here to access the PHA directory of services for each Trust area.

Be the Change Leadership


Click here to find out more about Be the Change Leadership conference on 5 March 2020.

Click here to see a video shown by the Housing Executive as part of their presentation at the conference, called ‘Pinball’ - it highlights one service user’s particularly negative experience.

Part of the challenge for leaders in all organisations is to not only consider their own organisation but also to consider how they work across their sectorial divides as only in doing so can we become a trauma informed Northern Ireland.

A report was commissioned by the EITP TIP project from QUB to review the Sequential Intercept Model to the Northern Ireland Context.  They explore how early intervention and innovative practice can be effective in improving life chances of justice involved young people and adults with complex needs.

A further seminar was also held on 4th March 2020 which focussed upon Trauma Informed Physical Environments. Key note speakers were:  

  • Suzanne Mooney, QUB, School of Social Work. Click here to access her presentation.
  • Professor Mandy Davis, Trauma Informed Oregon, USA. Click here to access her presentation.

Further Information and Links


Click here to see HSC Public Health Agency – Directory of Services to help improve mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Click here to see NHS Education for Scotland

Click here to see Public Health Wales

Click here to see Safeguarding Board NI and click on EITP TIP Project

Click here to see Trauma Informed Oregon

Click here to SBNI, ACEs Publications and helpful resources

Click here to access the EITP TIP Project leaflet designed by Barnardo's Life Changers Project young people for young people called "A Young Person's Guide to Stress and Resilience".


Bloom, S.L. & Farragher, B. (2013) Restoring Sanctuary; a new operating system for trauma-informed systems of care. Oxford University Press.