Trauma-Aware: Definition

We at the Attachment & Trauma Network (ATN) think it is important to specifically define the terms that are frequently used in the trauma movement.  Being a presence in this field since 1995, we have studied and developed the definitions of Trauma-Aware; Trauma-Informed; Trauma-Sensitive and Trauma-Responsive as we use them and believe reflect some important nuances about these terms.

ATN’s Certification Program will be launching in Summer 2024.  And as this program grows, will be delineated by these terms.


Being trauma aware means you have a basic understanding that previous events and adversities can have a lasting impact on individuals.  It involves understanding that people may be particularly sensitive to certain stimuli and react in involuntary ways when they are triggered.  If you’re trauma aware, you recognize that people who have been impacted by trauma need changes to their environment, support and sometimes therapies and interventions.  You may also understand that trauma is prevalent in our society and that the ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study has shown this prevalence and the connection between early adversities and increased health and mental health risks. 

 Examples of being Trauma-Aware:

  1. Understanding that those in the military with PTSD may struggle to attend events with fireworks or other loud noises is an example of being trauma aware.
  2. Realizing that children who have witnessed domestic violence or been physically abused themselves will likely exhibit some behavioral changes over the coming weeks or days.

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