Trauma Informed Design


Four 60-minute online sessions

Course Registration Rates: 

Students: $50

Non-UXPA Members: $350

UXPA Member: $200


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Short Course Description

Everyday we’re inundated with horrific videos and images of violence on our social media timelines. While most of us will remain unaffected, there is a large portion of the population who find themselves in the midst of a PTSD episode just browsing facebook. With digital well being in its infancy, designers are underprepared for the task of creating products and services that won’t re-traumatize its users.

This course will introduce you to Trauma Informed design, a new way of evaluating your product design work to reduce re-traumatization in vulnerable populations.

Content Warning: 

This courses will have frank and open discussions around various types of trauma including sexual assault, PTSD and its symptoms, emotional abuse, racial abuse and others. The purpose of these discussions is to illuminate taboo topics and show how re-traumatization occurs. These discussions may overwhelm and trigger you, especially if you are a trauma survivor.

Short Course Objectives

You will learn the foundation of Trauma Informed Design through understanding the basic principles of trauma and trauma informed care in healthcare. Through lectures on trauma and applying your knowledge on a course long project, you will learn and apply best practices of Trauma Informed Designs. No prior knowledge of trauma is required, as this course is foundational and will cover a brief introduction of trauma.

Short Course Methodology

Four 60-75 minute lectures and discussions  on February 12, 19, 26 and March 5 with homework after each lecture.

This course will also apply your learning through a studio based project estimated to take 1-2 hours a week outside of class.

Course to be conducted in English

Session 1 : Introduction to Trauma and Trauma Informed Care

  • Lecture:
    • How do we define Trauma and Trauma Informed
      • Introduction to trauma as defined by the health and wellness community
      • How trauma shows up for people
      • History of trauma informed care and its principles
      • Rewriting those principles for design
  • Homework

Session 2: Turning Trauma Informed Care into Trauma Informed Design

  • Discussion
    • Reading thoughts and reactions
  • Lecture:
    •  Moving from Trauma Informed Care to Trauma Informed Design
      • Share Trauma Informed Design Principles with Examples
      • Share list of products and features that should be redesigned
  • Homework
    •  Select your product of feature and do some research on how it has traumatized or re-traumatized people

Session  3: Trauma Informed Heuristic

  • Discussion
    • Share selected product
  • Lecture
    •  Introduction to The Bessel Heuristic, a Framework for Evaluating Trauma in Design
  • Homework
    •  Using The Bessel Heuristic on your product, discuss and/or design how you would change the product or feature it to reduce re-traumatization. You will have the opportunity to share it next week

Session 4: Trauma Informed Design in Action

  • Discussion
    • Project Share Out
  • Lecture
    • Wrap up and Reflection Discussion
    • Additional Resources

Homework and/or supporting material

The Body Keeps the Score By Dr. Bessel van der Kolk