Trauma-Informed Research

Trauma is pervasive and complex public health problem. One nationally representative survey found that 89.7% of all respondents has been exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lifetime.¹ The pivotal Adverse Childhood Events study revealed that adolescent exposure to trauma can have lasting harmful effects on an adult’s’ health and wellbeing.²

Despite the prevalence of trauma in our society and in the greater world, research-based interventions to help people recover and heal are just emerging. For years, the predominant treatments available only addressed psychological symptoms. Yet, trauma affects a whole person- mind, body and soul. With this realization, innovative therapies such as trauma-informed yoga have been developed to help trauma survivors regain a sense of control over their bodies and emotions. The practice is well recognized as healing and there is a growing body of research to support its benefits. However, there is no consensus on the appropriate way to monitor and evaluate a yoga program’s effect on the experience of trauma. Realizing the need, I dedicated my Master’s of Public Health studies to this pursuit.

It is both my goal to increase awareness of trauma-informed yoga and to help
organizations develop, monitor and evaluate of trauma-informed yoga programs so that they can be effective and sustainable at promoting lasting healing.

As a part of my Master’s thesis, I conducted an extensive literature review of the published studies on yoga and mindfulness programs for trauma survivors and for those at a high risk for exposure to traumas. I analyzed the studies methods and findings in order to compile a list of evaluation recommendations and considerations.

From this research, I created my own hypothesized model, called the Path to Presence, that illustrates and relates the ways in which yoga heals. The model can be used to help plan evaluations of yoga programs. Each concept represents a theoretical construct that can be monitored, both qualitatively and quantitatively, to see if any change occurs.

To inquire about this research further and see how I might be able to help assist your program/organization in designing, implementing or evaluating a yoga program or outreach program, please contact me.


¹Kilpatrick, DG, Resnick, HS, Milanak, ME, Miller, MW, Keyes, KM, & Friedman, MJ. (2013). National Estimates of Exposure to Traumatic Events and PTSD Prevalence Using DSM-IV and DSM-5 Criteria. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26(5), 537–547.
²Felitti, VJ, Anda, RF, Nordenberg, D, Williamson, DF, Spitz, AM, Edwards, V, Marks, JS. (1998). Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. American journal of preventive medicine, 14(4), 245-258.