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14 Oct: The Importance of Presence: Trauma Is Automatic

By Dr. Will Henson If you don’t like snakes, and I show you a picture of a snake, what happens? Your arousal level goes up – Your mind senses a threat and prepares the body for fight or flight. This process happens automatically before your rational mind catches up and tells you that it’s just a picture.     In fact, studies have shown that if you show people pictures of snakes at a speed faster than the eye can see their arousal still goes up. The unconscious mind senses the danger where the conscious mind doesn’t. The point is that your students who have had traumatic experiences can easily be triggered by things and not even know it. Imagine a student; Being told she is going…

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10 Oct: Questions and Answers from Dr. Henson’s Recent Webinar

Questions (and answers!) from the Using Trauma Informed Care to Enhance Behavioral Interventions in Schools webinar  by Dr. Will Henson Thanks everyone for attending our webinar Why Aren’t Our Behavior Interventions Working?Below are a list of questions submitted to us before and during the webinar.  If you don’t see your question here it may have been similar enough to another one that I lumped it in with a different answer. You can also email questions to me at willhenson@drhenson.org. Can you dive a little deeper into what co-regulation might look like in the classroom? Yes!  And by this question, I am going to assume that you mean in the classroom with 25 other kidsaround and lots of things going on.  Co-regulation does not have to be a…

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30 Sep: Manage Energy, Not Behavior

By Dr. Will Henson The term behavior management is ubiquitous in education. However, great behavior managers don’t manage behavior – they manage energy. When they are working with a behavior that is unwanted, they don’t focus on changing that behavior right then and there. Instead, they direct their energy to the tone and mood of the situation. Since most challenging behavior is intense, rapid, reflexive, and survival oriented, most responses need to be regulatory instead of confrontational. If you’re having trouble with challenging behavior in your classroom try this: Present a calm and focused energy yourself. Keep the tone and mood of the classroom positive and feeling safe.  If you start with that foundation, you can move on to academics and changing students’ behavior much more easily….

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17 Sep: Personal & Professional Boundaries: Self-Disclosure

By Dr. Will Henson In writing our Personal and Professional boundaries video for the ParaSharp© series, we outlined several important boundaries educators needed to be aware of. One that needs some important discussion as the school year gets started is maintaining healthy boundaries around self-disclosure. Self-disclosure is talking and sharing information about yourself.  Here are some things to remember to keep self-disclosure healthy and helpful to your students: The Headline Rule: Before you disclose something, think about how it might sound as the headline on tomorrow’s newspaper. Imagine that you tell students that since you are an adult you drink beer and think this is okay. The headline might read “Mrs. Smith Defends her Drinking Habit.” The Political Campaign Rule: Before you disclose something, imagine you…

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06 Sep: Starting the Year Off…Hard or Soft?

Starting the Year Off…Hard or Soft? by Dr. Will Henson It’s time to meet this year’s group of students.  How do you start the year off right?  Some say you start with a softer, relational approach, get to know students and then lay down the law. Some say you start off hard, and let kids know you aren’t messing around.  So, who is right?   Well,  the answer is neither.  It’s just as bad to be too soft as it is to be too hard. Here are three things you need to know to set the year off right: Make your expectations clear: From the start, let the students know what you expect out of them.  Don’t wait until they mess…

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26 Aug: Willow’s Cousin Luna

Willow’s Cousin Luna by Dr. Rick Robinson My friend and colleague, Will Henson, beautifully described the attunement and connection process in his wonderful blog, My Friend Willow.  He relays to us the importance of our nonverbal presence and how we can signal safety to another being with the tone of our voice, pace of our movements, facial expressions, and body posture. And critically, when Willow is allowed to approach people at her own pace she has a much better chance to successfully manage feelings of threat. It turns out that, in a coincidence far to big to ignore, I too have learned a lot from a little white rescue dog.  Luna was feral during her puppyhood, and the spunk and…

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05 Aug: My Friend Willow

My Friend Willow by Dr. Will Henson My friend Willow came and visited our house last week. Willow is a little white dog and she’s a rescue. I don’t know what happened to Willow but she certainly has plenty of signs of trauma. She is afraid of new people, especially men. She growls when unknown people come too close. But it’s pretty easy to win Willow over. In fact, what I find is that most people intuitively know how to work with her as long as I tell them she’s had trauma. Once they get that she’s had a difficult past, they move slower, talk softer, and allow Willow to approach them. I think all this is made easier because…

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09 Jul: Sunshine, Skills, and Solutions

by Dr. Rick Robinson For most of you, the school year has ended, and perhaps enough time has passed that your fatigue is being replaced with a bit of energy and focus on recreation, gardening and other such things. I wanted to share a couple of thoughts you might find helpful as we move into summer. About 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a training program that was conducted by Dr. Bruce Perry, a leading expert in the field of child maltreatment and trauma. He introduced us to a concept, “State Dependent Functioning,” that has not only informed my practice in working with children and adolescents, but also hinted at ways an enjoyable summer in the…