Today One Small Thing is launching the first UK evaluation research into the Healing Trauma Intervention in women’s prisons in England as part of the wider Becoming Trauma Informed Initiative that the charity has been delivering in prisons since 2015.


In-keeping with the findings of evaluations of Healing Trauma in the USA the women in this evaluation reported:

  • significant reductions in symptoms of depression, anxiety, psychological distress, PTSD, and trauma-related problems after completing the intervention;

  • that they experienced improved feelings of social connectedness;

  • that Healing Trauma had taught them to cope with a range of stressors.


Lead by Madeline Petrillo of University of Portsmouth, the results of this evaluation suggest gender-responsive, trauma-informed interventions are effective in helping women address the factors that bring them into the justice system and have positive impacts on the emotional and psychological well-being of the women who complete the programme.


One graduate of the programme said:

‘I think it’s a valuable course, because without it, it’d be a case of, right, you’re in jail, lock up and shut up type thing.  Do you know what I mean?  But it is good for you to…for reoffending or anything, you know.  Like, I don’t want to go back out and get drunk and get myself in all this state…I went out and I’ve ended up coming back.  Now I’m really changing my thinking.  I don’t want to go out and use drinking as a crutch you know, it’s good.  It’s a good thing.’


Another said:

‘I think it's really important because, a lot of women end up in prison have been through domestic violence and I just think it's a really good cause to bring into prisons...with giving the women the help and support they need.’

Healing Trauma is a brief trauma-informed intervention for criminal justice involved women that is peer-facilitated, voluntary and delivered in six group sessions.  It was first delivered in HMP Send in February 2017 and at the time of this research, it was being delivered in eight women’s prisons and the remaining four had plans to implement the programme.  Almost five hundred women had completed the programme.


The Becoming Trauma Informed (BTI) programme has been developed by Dr Stephanie Covington of the Centre for Gender and Justice in California. BTI training for Prison Officers in England commenced in 2015 and is now established in all twelve women’s prisons. BTI training in the long term high secure estate commenced in May 2018. Across the women’s custodial estate approximately four thousand members of staff have been trained in trauma-informed practice.


You can access the full report and Executive Summary below:



Madeline Petrillo
Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Portsmouth