An exploration of trauma-informed practices in restorative justice: a phenomenological study

Aaron Pycroft, Claudia Christen-Schneider*

*Corresponding author for this work

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While several studies define trauma as a main risk factor for developing offending behaviour, the criminal justice system still largely ignores the problem and the same seems to be true for restorative justice. This article offers a critical exploration of trauma-informed work with offenders using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The interviewees perceive a growing interest in the topic of trauma and trauma-informed care. However, they also identify several areas that seem to hinder a trauma-informed approach, not only with offenders but also with victims. One concern is the tendency to institutionalise restorative justice with an emphasis on efficiency, effectiveness and outcome-orientation. Interviewees also perceive a revengeful and retributive attitude in their societies that does not condone restorative measures that seemingly favour offenders. This tendency appears even stronger in societies that have suffered from collaborative trauma and have not recovered from it. Interviewees therefore advocate for raising awareness of trauma, the consequences of unhealed trauma and the need to work trauma-informed with all stakeholders, including offenders and the extended, affected community. They also appeal to increase training for practitioners in trauma-informed care and self-care as these areas seem essential to provide safe and beneficial processes for all stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Restorative Justice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • restorative justice
  • trauma
  • trauma-informed care
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis


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