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Preparing a New Generation of Designers

As guest lecturers at Texas State University, we provided the best-practices trauma-informed framework for a senior class who designed a 23,000 square foot, 3-story property for youth who were trafficked.

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The final project include d both program and residential space, designed to mitigate potential triggers, maximize comfort, and centralize choice. Trauma-informed Design is about integrating the principles of trauma-informed care into design with the goal of creating physical spaces that promote safety, well-being and healing. This requires realizing how the physical environment affects identity, worth and dignity, and how it promotes empowerment.


Environments have the ability to increase or reduce our stress. By anticipating and mitigating potential triggers, you can create spaces in which users’ stress systems can rest and they can find peace. In this peace, they can then form supportive relationships with adults who can support them through healing.


To achieve this, the students needed to understand the dynamics of human trafficking, and how they tie into Trauma-informed Design.  In order to successfully anticipate triggers and create maximum comfort, it is essential to get to know who will be using the space and what is important to them.  This includee understanding the two main types of trafficking, how trafficking operations work, who is most vulnerable to being trafficked, and how traffickers target their victims, break down their resistance, and control and exploit them.


With this knowledge, and the background provided on trauma, it's potential impacts, and best practices for informed care, students were armed with the knowledge and skills to develop a design that promotes both physical and emotional safety, respect, connection, community, control, dignity, healing, and joy.  The advancement in their designs and attention to holistic support for survivors throughout the term were incredible to witness!

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