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(p. 343) Design as the Missing Variable in Trauma-Informed Schools 

(p. 343) Design as the Missing Variable in Trauma-Informed Schools
(p. 343) Design as the Missing Variable in Trauma-Informed Schools

Dak Kopec

, and J. Davis Harte

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date: 02 July 2020

Trauma-informed school models are making important headway in the ability of properly trained and motivated teachers and staff to address the complex needs of traumatized students. However, there is a new and related avenue in the need for the school’s built and ambient environment to be able to support these trauma-informed practices and policies. This chapter provides context and insight to better understand the connection between the mental, emotional, and physiological responses of students with trauma histories and the built environment. With a theoretical lens of architectural psychology, the authors discuss how the physical environment may perpetuate students’ stress loads or, conversely, how school spaces can be thoughtfully designed so as to facilitate lower stress levels and increase perceived control and opportunities for reregulation, as well as support the teachers and staff implementing trauma-informed practices. The built environment can foster dignity, respect, and personal autonomy, which can support the development of self-regulation skills, healthy coping mechanisms, and, ideally, healing.

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