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Trauma Informed Code of Conduct (TICC)

Rachel Witkin
Katy Robjant

The Trauma Informed Code of Conduct will act as a professional guide for best-practice when working with survivors, and is written by our Head of Counter-Trafficking Rachel Witkin and Katy Robjant, a consultant clinical psychologist specialising in the treatment of PTSD and other related disorders in asylum seekers, refugees and victims of trafficking.

Message from the Authors

Trauma informed methods of working are based upon an understanding of the harmful effects of traumatic experiences, together with fundamental principles of compassion and respect.

We would have found the TiCC very useful when we first started working with survivors of human rights violations years ago. Since that time survivors have taught us so much about what they need and how best to work with them. We are still learning from them in our daily work now. The TiCC is a sharing of that experience.

Professionals who encounter survivors in the course of their work are often aware of the huge trauma that they have suffered, and may worry about how to avoid increasing their distress. Many professionals fear that they could do or say the wrong thing, and that this could make things worse or re‑traumatise the survivor. Sometimes, professionals can also become confused about why routine tasks they perform in their daily work seem to be particularly challenging with survivors of trafficking. We realised that a trauma informed code of conduct was needed, to de‑mystify trauma and to provide simple best practice guidelines for professionals in any field of discipline who are working with survivors. We explain how to counter‑act the trauma processes which might otherwise complicate this work.

Ensuring a calm, consistency of approach and ‘creating the illusion of time’ are simple procedures that even highly experienced professionals can benefit from, especially in the course of hectic schedules and while working under pressure. It is equally important to be able to take care of yourself in your work and stay safe. Having the TiCC should mean that professionals do not have to draw solely and repeatedly upon their own resources of emotional intelligence and intuition, but can remember tips and guidance for using simple techniques in all contexts, including the difficult process of obtaining disclosure for legal procedures.


Trauma-informed methods of working are based upon an understanding of the harmful effects of traumatic experiences together with fundamental principles of compassion and respect. Any form of professional communication with a person who has suffered human trafficking or slavery should be treated as an opportunity to help them to progress towards a long-term situation of safety, stability and well-being.

The Trauma-Informed Code of Conduct (TiCC) is designed to enable professionals in all fields of discipline to:

  • Establish and maintain a mutual relationship of trust with survivors in any working context or environment
  • Impart a consistent sense of calm, security and safety throughout the course of their work.
  • Increase the confidence of survivors and minimise the risks of causing distress and re-traumatisation.
  • Remain safe and well in the course of their work, avoiding secondary traumatisation and professional ‘burnout'

The Code is intended for use only within the strict parameters of each professional’s allocated role and remit. It is equally applicable to individuals who have been internally trafficked as to those who have crossed international borders. Its methods are designed to be adaptable to all environments and situations in which professionals may encounter survivors, bearing in mind that specialist services for survivors vary widely across international regions. In emergency and conflict settings it may be more difficult to apply every principle, but the ethos of the guidance can still be maintained.