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Helping Students Cope with Trauma and Loss: Online Training for School Personnel with Helene Jackson, Ph.D.
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This course was edited by Sharon Kay. The project was developed by the Columbia University School of Social Work with support from the Bank Street College of Education.

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School-Counselor Interventions: Intervention Guidelines

School counselors build relationships with students using empathy, active listening, support, and encouragement.
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The following guidelines are based on the consensus of a group of mental-health trauma experts. 23 Remember, clinical guidelines provide only guidance; they are not a substitute for sound clinical judgment. If you feel you do not qualify as a trauma therapist, it is important that you refer students to mental-health professionals or agencies that specialize in trauma.

View "List of Organizations for Referral."

The following interventions are recommended for individuals, regardless of age, whose symptoms have lasted for at least one month without major improvement:

  • anxiety management (relaxation training, breathing retraining, assertiveness training, thought stopping, positive thinking, and self-talk)
  • cognitive therapy (correcting irrational beliefs, particularly guilt related to trauma)
  • exposure therapy (desensitizing anxiety due to reminders of trauma by gradual and increased exposure to them) 23

Combining anxiety management, cognitive therapy, limited exposure and psychoeducation you can

  • develop a working relationship with students using empathy, active listening, support, and encouragement (relationship-building)
  • identify the students' view of themselves and the world (cognitive distortions)
  • explore students' concerns and forecasts of the future (anxiety management)
  • gently encourage students to discuss their involuntary thoughts and images (limited exposure)
  • normalize students' feelings and symptoms (psychoeducation) 19
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