Client Experiences of Trauma-Informed Care in Social Service Agencies

Author/Creator ORCID





Citation of Original Publication

Nancy Kusmaul, Molly R. Wolf, Shalini Sahoo, Susan A. Green & Thomas H. Nochajski (2019) Client Experiences of Trauma-Informed Care in Social Service Agencies, Journal of Social Service Research, 45:4, 589-599, DOI: 10.1080/01488376.2018.1481178


This item is likely protected under Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law. Unless on a Creative Commons license, for uses protected by Copyright Law, contact the copyright holder or the author.
This is an original manuscript / preprint of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Social Service Research on 25 Oct 2018, available online:



This paper describes a qualitative study of individual client interviews (n = 26) from four social service agencies to understand how clients experience trauma-informed care services and implementation challenges. We used the Fallot and Harris framework to explore client experiences of the five core concepts of trauma-informed care (safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment) using semi-structured interview questions with each client. The four agencies consisted of: refugees (n = 4), substance abuse (n = 8), older adults (n = 12), and maternal/child health (n = 2), and the agencies varied in size, service goals, and clientele. The results of the study suggest that clients’ experience of these concepts was shaped by the actions of other clients, and these experiences were either mitigated or hindered by actions of the agency employees. Agency policies either supported or enhanced their experiences as well. The results also suggest that it was challenging for agencies to provide for all of the trauma-informed care (TIC) concepts at the same time. We discuss the implications of these findings for social service delivery in a range of agency types. Future research should examine the effects of trauma-informed policies on client experiences of each TIC domain.