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Trauma-Informed Approaches in Correctional Settings

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2021

This manual presents a cross-disciplinary training curriculum for increasing trainees’ knowledge and awareness of the relationship between trauma and substance-use disorders (SUDs) among persons involved in jail/prison programs and aftercare under the federal Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) Initiative.


The training is intended for RSAT program staff, including program planners, coordinators, addictions counselors, case managers, and correctional administrative and security staff. Behavioral healthcare providers, volunteers, peer recovery specialists, and jail/prison chaplains should also be included in the training. The curriculum emphasizes best practices for trauma-informed and trauma-specific treatment methods as determined by evaluations of substance-use disorder treatments. Integrated interventions are also emphasized. These feature behavioral approaches that focus on motivation, values, and personal responsibility, in addition to targeting trauma, SUDs, mental health conditions, antisocial attitudes, and other risk factors for recidivism. The features and possibility of recovery from SUDs and related trauma are emphasized, along with coping skills and methods of behavioral control. Attention is given to the diverse culturally based needs of participants, including the specific barriers they face in the community. The training also emphasizes building on a person’s existing strengths and attributes that are important in addressing SUDs and associated impairments. Each training module includes learning aids, a content review, and a resource list.

Date Published: May 18, 2021