Contemporary School Psychology

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 63–83 | Cite as

Trauma-Informed Positive Education: Using Positive Psychology to Strengthen Vulnerable Students

  • Tom BrunzellEmail author
  • Helen Stokes
  • Lea Waters
Tools for Practice


This paper explores the role of a positive education paradigm in mainstream and specialist classrooms for students who have experienced complex trauma resulting from abuse, neglect, violence, or being witness to violence. Existing trauma-informed education focuses on repairing regulatory abilities and repairing disrupted attachment in students. However, a dual-continua model of mental health suggests that repairing deficits is only part of the education response needed to nurture well-being in trauma-affected students. Trauma-informed education can be conceived from both a deficit perspective (e.g., what deficiencies or developmental struggles does this student face?) and a strengths perspective (e.g., what psychological resources does this student have to build upon for future success?). This paper develops the strengths-based trauma-informed positive education (TIPE) approach which proposes three domains of learning needed for trauma-affected students: repairing regulatory abilities, repairing disrupted attachment, and increasing psychological resources. It is argued that the three domains support each other via synergistic interactions which create upward spirals to increase psychological growth. The TIPE model will make a contribution to research in positive education, positive psychology, and traumatology, with the applied context of assisting classroom teachers and school-based practitioners to meet the complex behavioral, cognitive, and relational needs of students struggling in schools.


Trauma-informed teaching Positive psychology Positive education Classroom milieu Healing Growth 


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Copyright information

© California Association of School Psychologists 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Melbourne Graduate School of EducationUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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