The Role of a Trauma Informed Approach to Leadership

Gretchen Schmelzer, PhD is a licensed psychologist and trauma survivor who has worked for twenty-five years with the complex issues of trauma, integration and behavior change across every level of system from individuals, to groups, to large systems and countries. She is the author of Journey Through Trauma published in 2018 by Penguin Random House. Since 2002 Dr. Schmelzer has worked as a senior associate with Teleos Leadership Institute in transformational leadership development, executive coaching and management consulting- working with individuals, groups, organizations and countries to help them achieve the change they want to make. A two-time National Champion in Rowing, Gretchen also has extensive experience in performance enhancement for individuals and teams working with Olympic, Master’s and Collegiate level coaches and athletes.

Dr. Schmelzer received her PhD in Counseling Psychology at Northeastern. She completed her psychology training internship as a Harvard Medical School Fellow at the Cambridge Health Alliance, and completed her post-doctoral training with adults in Behavioral Medicine at UMASS Medical Center, specializing in health psychology and mindfulness-based treatment completing a fellowship at the Center for Mindfulness started by Jon-Kabat Zinn. Her expertise in long term trauma was used to inform the design and delivery of a four year large scale intervention for the UN in Cambodia. More recently she has taken this program to Rural Alaska, working with Alaska Native Leaders to strengthen their response to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

Dr. Schmelzer has been faculty and adjunct faculty in the department of Counseling Psychology at Northeastern University from 2002 to 2007, and adjunct Faculty at the University of South Florida Medical School through their SELECT program- from 2011-2015. She is currently a lecturer in the Medical Education Masters Program in Penn’s Graduate School of Education. She was recently featured on CNN with Anderson Cooper and Working from Home with Richard Quest. She is the founder and editor of The Trail Guide, a web-mag featured on dedicated to healing repeated trauma, and since the beginning of the pandemic she has focused more of her work on intersection of leadership and trauma, working with hospitals teams, first responders, city governments, corporate teams and government agencies.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the impact of repeated trauma on leadership
  2. Learn the 5 Phase Cycle of Repeated Trauma
  3. Understand the impact of trauma on emotional intelligence


  • Gretchen Schmelzer, PhD

This seminar was delivered as a Pediatric Grand Rounds Lecture at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, on September 28, 2022.

Content Disclaimer

The Terms of Use and Privacy Policy set forth on the website of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia apply to any and all uses of and access to this site and the content found here.

The work presented in the presentations, videos, and other content on this site (“Presentations”) includes publicly available medical evidence, a consensus of medical practitioners, and/or opinions of individual practitioners that may differ from consensus opinions. These Presentations are intended only to provide general information and need to be adapted for each specific patient based on the practitioner’s professional judgment, consideration of any unique circumstances, the needs of each patient and their family, the availability of various resources at the health care institution where the patient is located, and other factors. The Presentations are not intended to constitute medical advice or treatment, nor should they be relied upon as such. The Presentations are not intended to create a doctor-patient relationship between/among The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, its physicians and the individual patients in question. The information contained in these Presentations are general in nature, and do not and are not intended to refer to specific patients.

CHOP, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Foundation and its or their affiliates, the authors, presenters, practitioners, editors, and others associated with the creation of the Presentations (“CHOP”) are not responsible for errors or omissions in the Presentations; for any outcomes a patient might experience where a clinician reviewed one or more such Presentations in connection with providing care for that patient; and/or for any and all third party content on the site or in the Presentations. CHOP makes no warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the currency, completeness, applicability or accuracy of the Presentations. Application of the information in or to a particular situation remains the professional responsibility of the practitioner who is directly treating the patient.

To the extent that the Presentations include information regarding drug dosing, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the viewer should not rely on the Presentation content, but rather is urged to check the package insert for each drug for indications, dosage, warnings and precautions.

Some drugs and medical devices presented in the Presentations have United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for limited use in restricted research settings. It is the responsibility of the practitioner to ascertain the FDA status of each drug or device planned for use in their clinical practice.

You shall indemnify, defend and hold harmless CHOP, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Foundation, and its/their current and former employees, officers, and agents, trustees, and their respective successors, heirs and assigns (“Indemnitees”) against any claims, liability, damage, loss or expenses (including attorneys’ fees and expenses of litigation) in connection with any claims, suits, actions, demands or judgments arising directly or indirectly out of your reference to or use of the Presentations.

The Presentations are protected by copyright laws and in some cases patent laws, and all rights are reserved under such laws. No part of the Presentations may be reproduced in any form by any means, or utilized in any other way, absent prior written permission from the copyright owner.


By starting this module, you agree to our Content Disclaimer and Terms of Service.


Course Includes

  • 1 Lesson
  • Course Certificate
Don't have a CHOP OPEN account?
Click “Login to Enroll” below to register for free.