Credit points


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YSED204 Trauma Informed Practice

Unit rationale, description and aim

Youth workers often work with extremely vulnerable young people who present with multiple-complex issues and, often, significant trauma. This unit enables students to build a framework for analysing and responding to the complex issues pertaining to young people in these contexts. The aim of this unit is to develop the skills required to practice young-person centred and holistic responses for vulnerable young people, including how to tailor interventions to fit with the unique needs and experiences of each client, and beginning work from 'where the young person is at'.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify and critically reflect on the factors which impact on young people’s vulnerability (GA1, GA4) 

LO2 - Articulate and critically examine their own understanding of their professional practice in working with vulnerable young people (GA4, GA5) 

LO3 - Demonstrate effective and respectful responses to young people with substance abuse and mental health issues (GA4, GA5) 

LO4 - Apply a range of skills suitable for use by youth workers to intervene with young people with problematic patterns of drug use or who are in a mental health crisis (GA 5, GA7, GA8). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include: 

  • Skills related to areas of vulnerability (such as mental health, substance use, self-harm and suicide) and to help a young person explore a range of effective responses to assist them avoid harm and initiate and maintain change. 
  • Different interventions that may be appropriate to the range of issues experienced by a young person (including their problems and their strengths), and when and how these different interventions can be most profitably introduced and configured.
  • The provision of holistic care that involves recognition that a wide range of biological, psychological and social factors impact upon the young person and the issues they bring to a particular service 
  • Processes of working with young people with multiple and complex needs, such as alcohol and drug use problems, mental health problems, experiences of neglect and abuse, homelessness, social marginalisation, and involvement in the criminal justice system. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This 10-credit point face-to-face unit provides hands-on learning, including collaborative learning and has been designed to develop and deliver learning outcomes over 150 hours. It takes the form of a face-to-face class incorporating activities through which students will gain a deep processes and strategies for working with vulnerable young people. Key learning activities will include different interventions that may be appropriate to the range of issues experienced by a young person. The lectures provide students with content and analytical frameworks necessary for understanding and analysing processes of working with young people with multiple and complex needs and assist students to synthesise a broad range of material. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessments in this unit encourage students to develop their understanding of the issues facing vulnerable young people using reflection and analysis (Vulnerability reflection), to engage with the scholarship surrounding youth vulnerability (exam) and to be able to analyse and development appropriate interventions (therapeutic group work). The schedule provides scaffolded learning with opportunities for students to monitor their own progress, practise their skills and receive feedback. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Vulnerability Analysis 

Students are required to respond to a series of reflection questions regarding vulnerability.  


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA5 

Therapeutic Group Program 

Students are required to develop a therapeutic group program for vulnerable young people 


LO3, LO4 

GA4, GA5, GA7 


Students are required to undertake an exam on the scholarship surrounding youth vulnerability. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8 

Representative texts and references

Connors, G, DiClemente, C, Velsaquez, M & Donovan, D 2013, Substance abuse treatment and the stages of change: Selecting and planning interventions, 2nd edn, Guilford Press, New York. 

Geldard, K, Geldard, D & Foo RY 2016, Counselling adolescents: The proactive approach for young people, Sage, Los Angeles. 

Geldard, K 2009, Practical interventions for young people at risk, Sage, London. 

Laser, JA, &Nicotera, N 2011, Working with adolescents: A guide for practioners, Guilford Press, New York. 

Mate, G 2018, In the realm of hungry ghosts, Close encounters with addiction, Vermilion, London. 

Powell, K 2015, A strength-based approach for intervention with at-risk youth. Research Press Publishers, Champaign, IL. 

Ungar, M 2015, Working with children and youth with complex needs: 20 skills to build resilience. Routledge, New York, NY.  

Ungar, M 2011, Counselling in challenging contexts: Working with individuals and families across clinical and community settings, Brooks/Cole, Belmont, CA.  

Ungar, M 2008, Strengths-based counselling for at-risk youth, Hawker Brownlow Education, Moorabbin, Vic.  

Online References: 

AOD tool box (Youth Support and advocacy service) 

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