‘They didn’t teach us this in law school’: How to Create a Legitimate Trauma Informed Court

'They didn’t teach us this in law school': How to Create a Legitimate Trauma Informed Court
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2023-04-25
Unit 1 Presentation Materials: 'They didn’t teach us this in law school': How to Create a Legitimate Trauma Informed Court
Unit 2 Transcript: 'They didn’t teach us this in law school': How to Create a Legitimate Trauma Informed Court
Unit 3 Workbook: 'They didn’t teach us this in law school': How to Create a Legitimate Trauma Informed Court
Unit 4 Recording: 'They didn’t teach us this in law school': How to Create a Legitimate Trauma Informed Court

The courts are highly familiar with the laws within the jurisdictions they operate in – but something that the criminal justice profession as a whole needs to brush up on is the human part of the job. How can courts effectively interact with individuals, especially court-involved youth and children who have gone through trauma, and set them up for progress, if not success? Dr. Michael Gomez walks us through this webinar to discuss trauma and trauma-informed care.

Dr. Gomez is from the Bradley Hospital Lifespan Institute of the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University. Prior to this role, he also served as the Director of the Adversity and Resilience Community Center (ARCC) and an Adjunct Professor at Texas Tech University Psychological Sciences.

Specifics of his discussion include:

  • The shift towards trauma-informed care by merely shifting from one line of questioning that puts blame on the individual into another that is driven by curiosity and compassion.
  • How traumatic stress can imitate other conditions’ symptomology often causing misdiagnosis of justice-involved youths.
  • The importance of screening, its difference from a psych evaluation, how screeners are bound to re-trigger but not re-traumatize, and the need to screen the caregivers/parents as well.
  • Examples of good screeners to use for both kids and adults – and the specific trauma factors these look into.
  • An MCU-powered way to better understand what health trauma reaction, PTSD, and complex PTSD are.
    • The normal time range for expressing primary emotions and its peak.
    • The shift from the pre-frontal cortex to the limbic brain in PTSD and the limited response and abilities when the limbic brain is in charge.
    • How complex trauma manifests as a lack of physiological reaction to stimuli.
    • The difference in triggers between PTSD and complex PTSD.
  • Recommendations and best practices to implement for a trauma-informed court and intervention that emphasizes…
    • The importance of screening and utilizing evidence-based therapy programs.
    • Shifting from compliance to a cooperation mindset.
    • Taking into account the secondary trauma and burnout for the professionals working with the individuals – both children and parents.
  • The reality that evidence-based therapy programs aren’t utilized as much as they should be in the legal system when it is the only effective way to meet the needs of justice-involved youth.
  • Resources to better understand evidence-based child therapy programs available for court system utilization.
  • Differentiating the trauma therapy typically available to kids and evidence-based trauma therapy in terms of:
    • Identifying the type of trauma that needs to be addressed and providing the appropriate intervention for it.
    • The pre-determined time frame for the entire program and when improvement is expected to be observed.
    • Components such as the screener, psychoeducation, stress management, exploration of the trauma, and the involvement of the caregiver in the process.
  • Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT): What it is, the research studies that support its effectiveness, its phases, and the most important element in PCIT – practice.
  • A rundown of the different resources available through the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) to create a trauma-informed juvenile court.
  • Denver Judge Robert R. Lung’s recommendations to establish trauma-informed care by focusing on cooperation versus compliance and the court professionals’ reaction at work.
  • The risk presented of secondary traumatic stress (STS) and burnout to court professionals working with traumatized court-involved juveniles and adults in their lives.
  • The spectrum of strategies to combat STS and burnout in the court setting – from least to most effective.

Topics raised during the Q&A are on:

  • How the effectiveness of PCIT may be impacted when the offending caregiver doesn’t recognize their wrongs or refuses to participate in treatment.
  • Recommended resources to learn more about evidence-based therapies.
  • Specific cases that TF-CBT and EMDR as therapy modalities are individually effective for.



Other Webinars with this Presenter



Or click here to view and register for other upcoming Victim Assistance webinars and recordings on the JCH Platform.


Resources and Handouts



Audience Comments

  • “[The speaker] was AWESOME! Loved the real-talk, just comfortable, conversational, and not the lecturing from the PowerPoint. … And then, of course, [the presenter] is a very talented speaker – the timing was great, and parts were humorous without trying too hard. Fabulous.” — Tanya
  • “Using humor and straight talk only enhanced the presentation without compromising the integrity of the information. Very good!” — Lisa
  • “A lot of very relevant information and analogies that I have not heard before and I have taken a lot of trainings on being trauma-informed. I thought this training was probably one of the best I’ve taken.” — Laura
  • “Lots of good information and resources. Well done. Thank you. Keep up your great work.” — Bruce
  • “I always learn so much from this presenter. Love the topic and how relevant to our field. Thank you.” — Carmen
  • “I learned a lot from this webinar. Dr. Gomez was a very engaging speaker, and as someone who did not know much about juvenile trauma prior to attending, I feel like I have learned a lot and am excited to share what I learned with others.” — May
  • “Being a retired cop, I can see how the hotheads who are still on the force could benefit from this information. Knowing that the behavior/resistance is not intentional but more based on trauma and the internal response (uncontrollable), could deescalate the response LE gives when a child or adult is provoked. I thought this was highly important to know and I was a Mental Health First Aid Trainer to our department. This was not part of the curriculum, but should be!” — Kimberly
  • “Dr. Michael Gómez was the best presenter that I’ve had in a long time and gave great information. I would love to hear more from him and would sign up for any training that had his name on it. The most valuable thing I’ve learned was about asking for a time frame – I don’t think most of the therapists who work with my kiddos could give a time frame.” — Erin
  • “The presenter was amazing, their great examples held my attention, and I learned more about treating complex trauma.” — Angie




NACP and D-SAACP Advocates can earn 1 CEU by attending this webinar through the National Advocate Credentialing Program (NACP)® and the DoD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program (D-SAACP). Founded in 1975, the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) is the oldest national victim assistance organization of its type in the United States and is the recognized leader in victim advocacy, education and credentialing.  To learn more about NOVA, visit trynova.org.



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