Trauma-Informed

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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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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…

06 Jun: End of Year Transition Strategies for Students with ACES

Year End Transition Strategies for Students with ACES by Dr. Rick Robinson I have visited a number of schools over the last month, collaborating with them on their implementation of trauma informed practices, or a “Culture of Care.” Teams have been working hard to both consolidate progress that has been made this year, and to outline next steps for the coming school year and the strategies they will use to implement them. Importantly, regardless of the specific strategies that are adopted, we think predictability and relational safety are the pillars upon which a Culture of Care rests, and provides the overall sense of well-being and safety students need to optimally develop. It is inspiring to hear stories from educators regarding…

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30 Apr: Regulation: The Most Important Skill of All

Regulation: The Most Important Skill of All There are a lot of important social and emotional skills that kids (and adults) need in order to do the core tasks of life: be happy, make good choices, deal with difficult situations, succeed at school and work, form lasting relationships (and so on). But of all the skills people need, there is nothing more important than the ability to self-regulate. In our videos and materials we talk a lot about how regulation is about more than just emotions.  Regulation includes the ability to manage one’s: * attention (being able to direct and sustain attention the right things) * emotions (being able to feel feelings and manage them without over-reacting to them) *…