Trauma-Informed Interviewing Techniques
A toolkit for attorneys, physicians, and other professionals working with children who have experienced trauma.
As a result of the United States’ Zero Tolerance Policy, thousands of children were separated from their caregivers and detained in substandard conditions upon arriving to seek asylum in the US. Forced separation from a primary caregiver, at any age, is considered a major trauma with lasting negative health effects for children and their families.
Hundreds of lawyers and physicians have volunteered their services to the victims of family separation but the resources available to support these professionals are scarce and often inaccessible to busy professionals in need of practical advice and emotional support.
Through the generosity of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, experts in trauma-informed care from the Stanford Center for Health Education and the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) were given the opportunity to support the work of immigration attorneys who visit with and hear directly from these children. This compact video toolkit offers these professionals just-in-time support that will leave them with the strategies and coping skills they need to do this humanitarian work.
This project includes five videos, a written guide, a set of reflection questions, and links to further resources, free for use under the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.
- Watch all videos on YouTube
Note: A primary goal while conducting interviews with immigrant children is to avoid re-traumatizing children. Even in a short interview, a trauma-informed approach is crucial to safeguarding a child’s health. The strategies presented in these videos will help interviewers gather accurate information while avoiding additional trauma for both the child and the interviewer. We strongly recommend that interviewers obtain further training from a mental health professional with experience in trauma and development.
Trauma-informed child interviewing resources and recommendations
- Trauma: What Child Welfare Attorneys Should Know (NCTSN)
- Trauma-Informed Legal Advocacy: A Resource for Juvenile Defense Attorneys (NCTSN)
- Age-Related Reactions to Traumatic Events (NCTSN)
- Child Interview Practice Guidelines (Nobody’s Children Foundation)
- Interviewing Children (Lyon, 2014)
- Representing Children in Immigration Matters (KIND)
- Interviewing Children Guide (CASA of Arizona)
- Attorneys for Children Guide to Interviewing Clients: Integrating Trauma Informed Care and Solution Focused Strategies (Reitman, 2011)
- The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Protocol: Interview Guide (NICHD)
- Child Forensic Interviewing: Best Practices (US DOJ)
- A Refugee Lawyer Reflects on Giving Clients a Voice (Fleming, 2019)
- Primer for Juvenile Court Judges: A Trauma-Informed Approach to Judicial Decision-Making for Newcomer Immigrant Youth in Juvenile Justice Proceedings (NCYL)
- NCTSN Bench Card for Juvenile Court Judges: Newcomer Immigrant Youth in Juvenile Justice Court Proceedings – A Trauma-Informed Approach (NCTSN)
- Questioning Unaccompanied Immigrant Children: Lessons from Developmental Science on Forensic Interviewing (SRCD)
Understanding the trauma-informed approach
- Establishing a Trauma-Informed Lawyer-Client Relationship(Part One) (ABA Child Law Practice)
- Communicating with Youth Who Have Experienced Trauma(Part Two)(ABA Child Law Practice)
- Sowing Seeds: Trauma Informed Practice for Anyone Working with Children and Young People NHS Education for Scotland
- Opening Doors: Trauma Informed Practice for the Workforce NHS education for Scotland
Resources on secondary stress and vicarious trauma
- Secondary Traumatic Stress (NCTSN)
- Secondary Traumatic Stress: A Fact Sheet for Child Serving Professionals (NCTSN)
- The Vicarious Trauma Toolkit (Office for Victims of Crime, US DOJ)
- Professional Quality of Life (ProQoL) resources on compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma (including Helper Pocket Card)
- Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project
Questions? Contact us
Please reach out if you have questions or need to adapt the content for a different context.