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Trauma Informed Approaches blog

Integrating Trauma-Informed Approaches: How EVALCORP Evaluates with a Trauma-Informed Approach

In our second blog post in this series, we briefly reviewed the framework trauma-informed care (TIC) and discussed some broadly applicable practices that apply that framework to interacting with individuals who have experienced trauma. There are various points in the EVALCORP Project Cycle where we utilize TIC. Today, we will focus on two specific processes that can be useful for program evaluation, needs assessment, and strategic planning: design of data collection tools and focus group facilitation.

Design of Data Collection Tools
At EVALCORP, our evaluation consultants design data collection tools that are transparent about what participants can expect and provide them with autonomy in their participation. All tools that we develop (e.g., surveys, interview or focus group protocols) inform individuals:

  • the purpose of the data tool,
  • that they have a choice to not respond to questions they do not feel comfortable answering, and
  • how the information will be reported.

We also communicate a roadmap for topics we would be discussing during the interview or focus group for participants’ awareness.

Facilitation of Focus Groups
An important component of working with communities is ensuring we validate individuals’ perspectives and empower them to choose how they want to share their opinions and experiences. This, in turn, helps us learn from individuals with vast experiences. When facilitating focus groups, we create a safe and inclusive environment for participants by setting ground rules, checking in with participants, and reminding them to share only what they are comfortable sharing.

At the start of focus groups, our evaluation consultants share that everyone’s perspectives are valid and equally important and set ground rules that ensure participants who are sharing have everyone’s undivided attention (e.g., no side conversations, waiting for a participant to finish speaking before sharing).

During the focus group, we support the conversation by reminding participants that their experiences are valid and important, asking follow-up questions to ensure we understand what participants are trying to say, and making sure participants have had a chance to voice their perspectives. Along those lines, we remind individuals that they do not have to disclose anything they are not ready to talk about or simply do not feel comfortable sharing.

Here at EVALCORP, we value meeting individuals where they are by understanding what informs their perspectives. Importantly, we use elements of trauma-informed approaches when engaging with client and community stakeholders, leading to more meaningful collaboration throughout the project cycle.

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“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.“

– Peter Drucker

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