Social Work Services

Trauma responsive social work services

Ensuring Scotland’s social work services are able to recognise where people are affected by trauma, and respond in ways which reduce risks of retraumatising and supports recovery is a priority for the Office of the Chief Social Work Adviser. This will be delivered in collaboration with key partners through the Trauma Responsive Social Work Services Programme.

After extensive engagement with key partners, a workplan has been agreed and actions are progressing to:

  • ensure relevant breadth and depth of trauma knowledge and skills are embedded into pre and post qualifying social work education
  • improve access to all appropriate levels of trauma training and promote resources for social work services
  • establish an implementation support team to deliver a cohesive programme for the social work workforce, including support for operational middle and front line social work leaders
  • continue to draw on the expertise of those with lived experience of care and trauma to deliver the plan
  • ensure evaluation of all aspects of this programme of work
  • build sustainability into the programme


Governance of the Trauma Responsive Social Work Services Programme is through the:

The groups report progress and updates to the Social Work Education Partnership and the National Trauma Transformation Programme Steering Group for strategic oversight.

Implementation support and learning programme

Delivery of the implementation support and learning programme commenced in late 2023, initially with four local authorities across children’s, justice and adult social work services and workforce. It is intended to be delivered to whole teams and may include co-located allied health and paraprofessionals. In recognition of unique local contexts, support will be flexible and responsive to the specific needs of local areas, will complement existing work and will draw on available guidance for trauma informed organisations, systems, and workforces.

The team will draw upon their cumulative practice experience in trauma responsive service design, development, and delivery. Our Implementation and Learning Practitioners are registered social workers with significant experience at trauma enhanced practice level within a social work context. The programme is also supported by a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with extensive trauma specialist practice experience.

We continue to work with people with lived experience of trauma, and of care, in the design and delivery of our work. The programme is also supported though close working with NHS Education for Scotland, the Resilience Learning Partnership, the Improvement Service, and wider partners through our Partnership Delivery Group.

Early implementation sites

Initial learning from these sites will help inform scheduling, with further areas across Scotland to be supported by the team from 2024 until December 2026. Thereafter an independent evaluation of the programme will help identify next steps.

Supporting newly qualified social workers (NQSW)

The team are working with the NQSW Supported Year Implementation Partnership to consider the best approach to embed the necessary trauma knowledge and skills into the mandatory supported year for newly qualified social workers.

In the meantime, the team have delivered Transforming Connections – Trauma Skilled Practice training with follow up support, across Scotland to newly qualified and early career social workers. The training was delivered to over 200 newly qualified and early career social workers at the end of 2023 with follow-up coaching sessions delivered in early 2024.

The team are currently evaluating this offer to agree next steps.

Contact us

If you want to find out more about the social work services programme then please e-mail us using the address below: