Many fathers, including those who participate in fatherhood programs, have experienced trauma that can have lasting negative effects on how they think, feel, behave, and relate to themselves and others. This can impact many areas of their lives including how they parent, their relationships with their children and co-parent, and other personal or work relationships.
The benefits of using a trauma-informed (TI) approach in programs that serve fathers have been well documented. But the quality of the research about fatherhood programs and the experiences of study participants can also be improved by incorporating TI knowledge and principles into the research design. A TI approach to fatherhood research, from conceptualization to dissemination, assumes that anyone involved in the process (including study participants, program staff members, researchers, and others) may have experienced trauma and ensures that precautions are taken to avoid causing additional trauma to everyone involved. By grounding their work in a culturally responsive TI approach, researchers can develop a deeper understanding of the particular experiences, perspectives, and needs of fathers.
This brief explores ways to apply a broad TI framework to research focused on fathers and fatherhood programs and looks at the benefits for researcher-participant interactions throughout the research process.