The International Journal of Restorative Justice

Article

An exploration of trauma-informed practices in restorative justice: a phenomenological study

Keywords restorative justice, trauma, trauma-informed care, interpretative phenomenological analysis
Authors Claudia Christen-Schneider en Aaron Pycroft
Author's information

Claudia Christen-Schneider
Claudia Alexandra Christen-Schneider is president of the Swiss RJ Forum.

Aaron Pycroft
Aaron Pycroft PhD is Reader in Criminal Justice and Social Complexity at the University of Portsmouth, UK. Contact author: Claudia Alexandra Christen-Schneider at swissrjforum@gmail.com.
  • Abstract

      While several studies identify trauma as a main risk factor for developing offending behaviour, the criminal justice system still largely ignores the problem, and the same seems to be true of restorative justice. This article offers a critical exploration of trauma-informed work with offenders using interpretative phenomenological analysis. The interviewees perceive a growing interest in the topic of trauma and trauma-informed care (TIC). However, they also identify several areas that seem to hinder a trauma-informed approach, not only with offenders but also with victims. One concern is the tendency to institutionalise restorative justice with an emphasis on efficiency, effectiveness and outcome orientation. The interviewees also perceive a revengeful and retributive attitude in their societies that does not condone restorative measures that seemingly favour offenders. This tendency appears even stronger in societies that have suffered from collaborative trauma and not recovered from it. Interviewees therefore advocate for raising awareness of trauma, the consequences of unhealed trauma and the need to work trauma-informed with all stakeholders, including offenders and the extended, affected community. They also appeal for increased training to be provided for practitioners in TIC and self-care as these areas seem essential to provide safe and beneficial processes for all stakeholders.

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