There are many events that can cause individuals to experience which might include, but are not limited to: losing a loved one, being exposed to violence, natural disasters, and having an imposing threat to one’s life. Every student experiences and responds to trauma differently. Students may have difficulty academically and being in control over emotions they are experiencing. Traumatic exposure is associated with higher rates of PTSD, separation anxiety, social anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and oppositional and aggressive behavior (Overstreet & Mathews, 2011; Ruchkin, Henrich, Jones, Vermeiren, & Schwab- Stone, 2007).
School Psychologists can play a role in helping children respond to trauma through promoting trauma-sensitive school approaches. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) states that a trauma-sensitive approach includes promoting feelings of physical, social and emotional safety, having an understanding about the impact and effects of trauma that are shared among staff, having positive and culturally responsive policies and practices, as well as access to mental health services and collaborating in the community. This approach could use techniques such as:
• Providing and improving mental health services to all students
• Educating families about how toxic stress, adversity and trauma impacts students
• School psychologists can perform assessment, consultation, and intervention services to help address trauma in students
• Being aware that there are racial and ethinic disparities that might be reduced through the use of trauma-informed care
To help deliver a trauma-informed approach, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA, 2014) identifies four aspects to service delivery (Retrieved from the NASP site: https://www.nasponline.org/publications/periodicals/communique/issues/volume-44-issue-2/trauma-informed-care-in-schools-a-social-justice-imperative):
• Realize the impact of trauma and paths that can lead to healing
• People in the system should recognize how trauma presents itself
• People should respond integrating knowledge about trauma into policies and put into practice
• Ensure that re-traumatization does not occur.
School Mental Health Professionals Summer Series - June 23, 2020