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As an early childhood provider, what are some key principles I should know about trauma-informed care?

Sherrie Segovia, PsyD

October 15, 2023



As an early childhood provider, what are some key principles I should know about trauma-informed care?


There are six guiding principles of trauma-informed care to keep in mind.

  • Safety - Physical and psychological safety is paramount, for both staff and children. This includes environmental safety as well.
  • Trustworthiness and transparency - Healing happens through relationships built on trust, transparency, and healthy boundaries. Providers should demonstrate consistency and reliability.
  • Peer support and mutual self-help - Peer interactions can aid in healing and coping with trauma. Create opportunities for positive peer connections.
  • Collaboration and mutuality - Partner with families through shared decision-making and equality. Avoid power differentials - you don't have to be a therapist to be therapeutic.
  • Empowerment, voice, and choice - Recognize each child's unique needs and support their goals, choices, and autonomy. Let them have a voice.
  • Cultural, historical, and gender issues - Appreciate how culture shapes values, beliefs, and behaviors. Avoid assumptions, biases, and stereotypes about social identities based on current and past experiences of individuals and their ancestors. Respect each family's cultural background.

The core theme is providing compassionate care centered on each child's unique needs in an open, validating environment. Building trusting relationships enables healing and growth after trauma. Avoid power struggles and let the child guide the process. Patience, understanding, and respect support the child's resilience.

This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health is Everybody’s Businesspresented by Sherrie Segovia, PsyD.

sherrie segovia

Sherrie Segovia, PsyD

Dr. Segovia received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Psychology and was principally affiliated with community-based mental health and social service organizations. For over 40 years, Dr. Segovia primarily worked with marginalized African American and Latino children and their families in clinic, school, and home settings.

She has functioned as a counselor, family and child advocate, parent educator, and foster care training specialist. As the Clinical Manager at Hope Street Family Center for over 25 years, Dr. Segovia worked within a multi-disciplinary team to access, coordinate, and provide families with appropriate services. She provided clinical and administrative support and reflective supervision to Early Head Start professional case managers, as well as assessment, crisis intervention, and ongoing therapy for families and children.

Dr. Segovia was a frequent presenter at national, state, and regional conferences. She also co-wrote an article on infant mental health for Zero To Three and other publications. Dr. Segovia has also been an expert speaker on Channel 22 Telemundo and Channel 34 Univision as well as radio stations. In December 2003, she completed her Doctorate in Psychology and a dissertation with a focus on domestic violence and its impact on early language development.

Since 2004, Dr. Segovia served as a lead faculty for undergraduate and graduate courses in human services, psychology, and counseling in the college of social and behavioral sciences at the University of Phoenix. Additionally, Dr. Segovia facilitated a course on Parenting in High-Risk Families in the Child and Family Studies Department at California State University in Los Angeles.  She was also affiliated with the Latino Technical Assistance & Training Division of the California Hispanic Commission as an educational consultant. She served as a member of the board of directors for the California Head Start Association. Dr. Segovia’s specific areas of expertise include parental depression and anxiety, substance abuse, cultural competence, communication skills, parenting, and partnerships. Bilingual and bicultural herself, Dr. Segovia has a particular interest in culturally responsive service delivery.  

Related Courses

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