Maynooth University | AAI highlights need for trauma-informed practice in Education settings

Maynooth University will host an event on Tuesday, 26 October, to raise awareness of childhood trauma and adversity, and to highlight the need for trauma-informed practice in Education settings.

Titled ‘Hope and Healing’, this series of reflections and discussions, hosted online by Maynooth University’s Department of Education, will seek to develop a framework of what trauma-informed practice might look like in an Irish context.

It will also feature a conversation with world renowned trauma expert, Dr Gabor Mate, as well as drama from Crooked House Youth Theatre, contributions from Dr Sharon Lambert, Professor Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, Experts by Experience, teachers, and students.

The event is led by Dr Catriona O’Toole, Assistant Professor in the Psychology of Education at Maynooth University, in collaboration with Alcohol Action Ireland and supported by the Irish Research Council. Full Eventbrite details and registration are available here.

Speaking about childhood trauma, Dr Gabor Maté said: “Children don’t get traumatized because they get hurt; they get traumatized because they’re alone with the hurt. The common template for virtually all afflictions, mental illness, physical disease, is in fact, trauma.”

Dr Catriona O’Toole, psychologist and Maynooth University lecturer, said: “This is a hugely important and timely event. Childhood adversity and trauma are pervasive and have powerful, wide-ranging effects on subsequent health and wellbeing. Trauma-Informed approaches in education are vital for ensuring that staff understand how trauma impacts children’s learning, behaviour and relationships. Schools can and should be a safe and nurturing place for children and young people who have challenging life experiences.”

She continued: “Experts such as the renowned Dr Gabor Maté will help us to hone our thinking about what a national framework for trauma-informed practice in education might look like.”

Also co-chairing the event, Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland, said that research carried out by Alcohol Action Ireland showed that education settings were a vital place to reach children who may have difficulties at home.

“Educators are extremely well placed to identify children experiencing harm from, for example, a trauma such as problem alcohol use in the home, which impacts development.  The provision of training in relation to trauma-informed approaches and adverse children experiences (ACEs) should be implemented at teacher training level, and at all levels of professional development – from teachers to principals to education welfare officers to SNAs and administrative staff,” Dr Gilheany said.

“Likewise there is a need for co-ordination across state agencies who interact with traumatised children so that there is timely support for them in the school setting. An example of such good practice is Operation Encompass which, in the UK, links police and schools for children impacted by domestic abuse.”

Find full details of the event on:



Notes to Editor



About Maynooth University

Maynooth University is ranked #1 in Ireland and the only Irish university to be named in in the latest Times Higher Education (THE) 100 Best Young University Rankings. Tracing its origins to the foundation of the Royal College of St Patrick in 1795, Maynooth University was formally established as an autonomous university in 1997. Maynooth is Ireland’s fastest growing university with more than 14,000 students, including almost 1,800 taught postgraduate and professional students and 530 research students.

About Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI)

Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI) is a non-governmental organisation which acts as an expert independent voice for policy change on alcohol-related issues.  In October 2021, AAI launched its inaugural End The Silence series of events  to raise awareness of the issues arising from the Adverse Childhood Experience of parental problem alcohol use, which affects 200,000 children in Ireland  ‘Where the light enters’  is part of this event series.


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