Trauma Sensitive Schools Why do we need TSS?

Trauma-Sensitive Schools (TSSs) provide an environment in which both the students and the teachers feel safe and supported. TSSs understand that adults have a powerful influence on children, and therefore focus not only on the child’s needs but also on the adults who provide for the children in the school environment.

In TSSs, there is a culture of awareness of how Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) affect students’ social and emotional wellbeing and learning, and the schools equip educators and staff with the tools and strategies to do just that.

How Beneficial Is This Training to My School?

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study demonstrates that virtually every school has students who have been exposed to overwhelming experiences that can impact their learning, behavior, emotion regulation, attention, impulsivity, and social interactions. Becoming more trauma-sensitive, however, not only benefits the students who have experienced childhood trauma, it helps ALL children feel safe to learn, and it provides the same safe, supportive, and positive environment to the educators who interact with them every day. 

What Is the Feedback From Teachers?

This is some of the feedback teachers and staff from Lincoln Junior High School (School District 203) provided to their administration after our presentation (2017, printed with permission):

  • "ALL of the information that Dr. Langes and Dr. Verhoeven provided was relevant and useful to the ENTIRE school staff."
  • "By far, the Trauma presentation was the best feature of our professional learning. It was interesting info, engaging with the strategies used to present the info, and very relevant to what we see in our classrooms. The strategies shared were very helpful!"
  • "The knowledge I gained is invaluable and will affect my students' learning and performance. After the presentation, the staff got into our grade-level teams and discussed how to apply the new information to our students."
  • "The presentation on trauma was outstanding. The best professional development I have had in a long time. Very relevant and helpful. It was amazing!"
  • "I thought this presentation addressed an extremely pressing concern we have in our school, and I am excited to apply what I learned."

What We Offer

Laura Langes, Psy.D. and Marloes Verhoeven, Psy.D., provides training to schools to make the school environment more trauma-sensitive. They support educators and staff who are tasked with providing a calm, settled, and safe environment, often in the face of intense challenges, in which students are ready to learn.

We provide two training formats.

  • 1

    Trauma in the Classroom: What it is, why it matters, and what you can do about it

  • 1.5-2 hour presentation for all staff (teachers, support staff, and administration).
  • Addresses how trauma impacts the brain, what students’ trauma reactions look like in the school environment, and strategies staff members can implement to help students with trauma (and all students) with emotion regulation.
  • Presentation will be adjusted to address how trauma presents in students of different ages, given the grade levels of the school we are presenting to.
  • If there is only time for 1.5 hours for the presentation, we are willing to spend 30 minutes answering staff questions one-on-one, if possible, for the staff.
  • 2

    Addressing Trauma in Schools: Intensive strategies for student support staff 

  • Full day institute training for psychologists, social workers, and counselors.
  • Reviews how trauma impacts the brain in greater depth expands on ways in which students may present in the school environment in response to trauma or dysregulation, including dissociative (withdrawal) reactions, defiant (acting out) responses, and problems with executive functioning.
  • Gives concrete strategies support staff can use to de-escalate, ground, and regulate students while avoiding re-traumatization or disciplinary action. Goes into more detail on therapeutic strategies that can be used on an individual or group basis, addressing behavior, emotions, and negative beliefs/thoughts.
  • Also focuses on the importance of staff self-care and staff (stress) responses to traumatized and/or dysregulated students.
  • The content of this presentation can be adjusted as needed based on the needs expressed by staff prior to the presentation.

In addition, Drs Laura Langes and Marloes Verhoeven offer in-person consultations with staff to discuss student issues in-depth and provide targeted strategies. Consultations are usually one hour but can be longer if needed.

For More Information

Check out this Common Ground Education podcast from November 8, 2018, in which a school social worker interviews Drs. Langes and Verhoeven about ACEs and Trauma-Sensitive Schools.

Also look at this article, written by a teacher, about Trauma-Sensitive Schools, or watch this video about why we need Trauma-Sensitive Schools for both students and teachers.

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