Trauma Informed Design Research

Design practice that helps not harms

Trauma is common within society at large and is particularly prevalent amongst vulnerable populations, First Nations peoples and people with Lived Experience of mental health issues. Trauma informed practice is a strengths-based framework that supports responsiveness to the impact of trauma, enabling physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both providers and survivors.

Jax Wechsler, as part of her human-centred design practice, often conducts research with people who have lived experience of trauma.  She strongly felt that she needed to become more trauma informed in her design practice and completed a Certificate in Trauma Informed Care so that she can conduct her Design Research, Service Design and Co-design practice in a way that helps not harms.

Jax has so far delivered Part A of this training to over 150 people from all over the world. Due to popular demand she is offering it again as a 3 part series. You can come to either or all 3 classes, but it is recommended that you first attend Part A if you plan to attend Part B and/or Part C.

PART A: Trauma Informed Design Research : Process and Practice

In this class you will learn about what trauma is, the five guiding principles of trauma informed practice; safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness and empowerment and learn how to apply them within design contexts. You will learn about some mindsets and practices you can apply within your own practice when working with people who may have experienced trauma. Together we will reflect on how we can make our practice more trauma-informed. 

PART B: Strength Based Trauma Informed Design Research Methods

In this class you will learn some research and participatory methods that you can use when conducting research with people who have experienced trauma. These practices, drawn from Asset Based Community Development, Community Engagement, Appreciative Inquiry and Participatory Design will support you to be more strengths based and trauma informed in your Design Research, Service Design and Co-design work, empowering you to help and not harm. We will also look at some self care practices and you will receive a Methods workbook outlining the methods with links to further resources.

PART C: Vicarious Trauma : Looking After You Wellbeing

Vicarious trauma presents a really big risk for those working in trauma associated contexts including with vulnerable communities, indigenous communities and people who have experienced trauma. In this session we will talk about Vicarious trauma and together reflect on how we can best care for ourselves when working with people who have experienced trauma. You will learn some embodiment practices to help you look after your own nervous systems and we will together work through  the “The Five Directions” framework by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky as a tool for building our personal capacity for trauma stewardship in our work.


MAY DATES – next public course on May 2/3/11 (US time zones) and May 3/4/10 (Australian time zones)
(Come to one class or all 3)

Get in touch if you are interested in running this for your team or if you want to be notified about the next course

About Jax Wechsler

Jax Wechsler
 is a strategic designer and change maker based in Sydney Australia. She has over 15 years design related experience and is passionate about systems change and enabling better futures for people and the planet. Jax has a Masters by Research in Design (UTS) and her academic research explores the enabling and mediatory roles of design artefacts for organisational transformation.

Jax consults as Sticky Design Studio where she draws on multiple influences in her practice such as Human-centred Design, Systems Thinking, Futures Thinking and Community Development approaches. Professionally, Jax is passionate about change doing, learning and capability building or sharing. She teaches and mentors people interested in social design and change practices, and has founded two communities of practice, Social Design Sydney in 2013 and more recently the Systems Change Salon aimed at supporting change makers to do social and systems change work. Learn more about Jax’s projects and publications at or on LinkedIn.


“Attended Jacqueline (Jax) Wechsler workshop — strong recommend! Trauma-informed research should be considered essential training and part of all DR practice.” – Megan Elyse Bontempo, Design Research Lead,

“Thank you for bringing this topic of conversation to the table in such an informed and articulate way – it has been needed for a long time. I got so much out of it and highly recommend this workshop to my peers who work in design research, co-design and/ or HCD.” – Laura James, Insights & Design Lead, Smith Family

“If Design Research is part of your role particularly in relation to engaging with vulnerable people or communities, I highly recommend this 2-part course with the deeply experienced and wise Jacqueline (Jax) Wechsler. Keep an eye out for upcoming courses or get one tailor-made for your team or organisation.”
– Gina Garvey (WonderWork)

“This morning I completed Part 2 of the Trauma Informed Design Research Masterclass looking at Strengths Based and Appreciative Inquiry as methods and frameworks for researching with vulnerable members of society. These are fantastic sessions, which I’d highly recommend to anyone looking to expand their design research practice”
– Olivia Kirk, Senior Strategic Designer, Tobias Australia

“Attended an awesome class this morning by Jacqueline (Jax) Wechsler on Trauma Informed Design. Great to get a refresher on some of the theory, alongside some new and refined methods I can mould into my own design process. Highly recommend it!”
– Natasha Ballantyne, Experience Strategy Lead, Senior Manager, PwC Experience Consulting

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