This report explores the role of trauma and adversity in relation to violent extremism, based on the workshop held in July 2023.


A workshop exploring the role of trauma and adversity in relation to violent extremism was held from 20-21 July 2023 at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. The workshop brought together researchers, practitioners and policy makers with experience working on trauma, adversity and violent extremism in a variety of countries and contexts. 

The primary aims of the workshop were to:

  • Create a space to share research and practice.
  • Develop new collaborations across disciplines and geographies.
  • Provide a supportive context for those working with trauma to engage with other practitioners and researchers to help inform their work.
  • Identify needs for practice and new avenues for research. 

The workshop format included presentations that explored various themes relating to the complex relationships between trauma, adversity and violent extremism, and the potential applicability of trauma-informed practice in this context. Small group discussions were organised around the themes of locating and interpreting trauma in research and practice, and exploring the implications of trauma informed approaches. The format was designed to enable interaction and mutual learning between participants. 

This report provides an account of the key insights gained from the workshop discussions and presentations. These insights are brought together in three sections: 

  1. Understanding trauma and adversity: Trauma in research. This section considers how trauma is conceptualised and how it can be analysed. It also draws attention to empirical and theoretical research that was highlighted throughout the workshop. It exposes topics and issues that require further research.
  2. Practitioner perspectives: Trauma in practice. This section draws attention to concerns and challenges faced by practitioners through the course of their work. It highlights a range of advice and best practices relating to the promotion and implementation of trauma-informed approaches. 
  3. Conclusions: The report concludes by summarising the main takeaways from the workshop. It also highlights potential avenues for future research and collaboration to continue the development of knowledge and collaboration on this topic.