Whanganui social workers have been told to look for trauma in patients' backgrounds. Often it's the root cause of other problems.

Dr Chris Bowden, a lecturer in the school of education at Victoria University, ran a training session for Jigsaw staff last week and delivered a presentation on recognising and responding to trauma.

"The training focused on three things. It was on looking at trauma 101, a refresh on what trauma is, the different kinds of trauma, traumatic events and the effects they have on people," Bowden said.

Bowden has been working with trauma for close to 20 years.

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"Nobody is looking at what causes truancy, homelessness, drug addiction or mental health problems and all of that goes back to trauma," he said.

"You can keep chucking more and more money at those services and at those problems, but if you don't address the underlying issue, nothing's ever going to change.

"People can manage their trauma, change as a result of that and come out on the other side and we can help them with that."