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A child with a complex trauma history may display problems with friendships and with authority figures such as teachers. Individual needs should be carefully assessed to determine the level and intensity of intervention warranted.

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Once the most appropriate intervention is identified and implemented, the student should be reassessed to determine whether or not he or she needs additional more intensive supports. Interventions that may be used in a school setting include play, art, or storytelling to help children express their feelings about the trauma. Books can be useful tools as well, because reading and talking with supportive adults can help children understand and cope in a developmentally appropriate way.

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Reading allows for quality time with a caring adult, which fosters a sense of security and normality. School mental health professionals who are appropriately trained may also use cognitive-behavioral interventions such as cognitive restructuring and relaxation training to help children manage anxiety. Training parents and caregivers on ways to support their child is also important.

There are several components within this intervention, such as relaxation training, social problem-solving, cognitive restructuring, relapse prevention, and an exposure component. This typically involves talking, drawing, or writing to aid the child in approaching and dealing with the trauma. Even if a school-based mental health professional has the expertise to use such interventions, their workloads, access to supervision and consultation, and the philosophy of other school staff regarding offering this type of service may be obstacles to providing such treatment in schools.

Psychological First Aid | Central Michigan University

For children who have experienced a significant trauma or multiple traumas, the school may need to refer the child and family to community-based services where they can get more intensive care. It is important for schools to know when to refer to community-based services and to create and regularly update a list of possible resources. To develop a referral list, it is advised to consult with other professionals, contact agencies, search on the internet, find a psychologist via the American Psychological Association, and contact related associations.

Then the school should meet with the parent s and discuss the possibility for referral. If they decide to pursue a referral it also can be helpful for the school-based mental health professional to write a concise letter to the community-based professional to inform the provider of any concerns and to share a brief history.

It is also important to talk to a school administrator about how to make the referral in a way that is consistent with school board policy often structured in a manner in which the school does not bear financial responsibility.

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There are several community-based services to consider for children who have experienced a significant trauma. Depending on the severity of the trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing EMDR , an information processing therapy that attends to past experiences, current situations that trigger dysfunctional emotions, beliefs and sensations, and the positive experience needed to enhance adaptive behaviors and mental health also might be appropriate.

Any of the above treatments should try to include a parent component to improve treatment outcomes. Psychopharmacological treatment should only be contemplated after exhausting other psychological, behavioral, and family treatments when working with children and adolescents. It is important to continuously document and evaluate the effectiveness of prevention and intervention programs used. Trauma: Brief Facts and Tips Share this handout with basic information on youth trauma.

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Supporting Students Experiencing Childhood Trauma: Tips for Parents and Educators Parents and teachers are in a key position to identify warning signs and get youth the help they need. The Role of Schools in Supporting Traumatized Students Schools play a crucial and unique role in mitigating the effects of adversity, stress, and trauma on students.

Assemble a School-Based Multidisciplinary Trauma Team Develop a team of interdisciplinary professionals committed to supporting children who have been traumatized. Prevent Psychological Trauma The needs of the youth will vary greatly dependent on their individual experiences. Identify and Intervene with Psychological Trauma In order to effectively intervene in the aftermath of a trauma, it is critical to provide training on how trauma impacts children to build awareness, sensitivity, and improve the identification of children who may need additional assistance.

Follow-up It is important to continuously document and evaluate the effectiveness of prevention and intervention programs used. View All Crisis Resources.