Unit manager perspectives of a trauma-specific programme across Scotland’s secure estate

Ian Barron (Lead / Corresponding author), David Mitchell

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    The current case study sought to assess unit manager perspectives on the introduction of a group-based trauma-specific programme delivered across Scotland’s secure estate. As this was the first time such an estate-wide initiative had occurred, it was important to identify the benefits/challenges at a strategic level.

    An exploratory qualitative case study was utilized involving semi-structured interviews with five senior unit managers in three secure units to discover their perceptions of the benefits and challenges of implementing Teaching Recovery Techniques. A quasi-qualitative analysis was used to quantify and give meaning to manager responses. Inter-rater reliability of analysis was assessed.

    Unit managers perceived gains in trauma-informed knowledge for themselves, and knowledge and skills gains for programme workers, care staff and adolescents. Challenges involved: managing a shift in paradigm to include a trauma-specific programme; the limiting context of competitive tendering; short duration placements; and the need for psycho-education for staff, parents, and agencies.

    Research limitations/implications
    Large sample sizes are likely to identify further issues for unit managers. Manager perceptions need directly compared with staff and adolescent perceptions and included in randomised control trials of trauma-specific programmes.

    Practical implications
    Managers perceived TRT needed to be delivered within trauma-informed organizations and identified the need for manager training in traumatization, trauma recovery and organizational implications to guide strategic planning. Managers emphasised the need for psycho-education for families, staff and agencies.

    The current study is the first in Scotland to explore unit manager experience of introducing a trauma-specific programme across the secure estate.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)271-287
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Children’s Services
    Issue number4
    Early online date2017
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • secure units
    • Traumatisation
    • youth
    • recovery
    • trauma-specific programmes
    • Managers


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