Thursday, July 13, 2017

ASCA17 From My Couch...Again

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Yes, I am sad to say that I missed #ASCA17 again this year (unfortunately, I can only afford one conference per year and ASCA did not fit in my budget).  So, I vicariously attended the ASCA
I wanted to ride the bus!!
Conference through the tweets, posts, and pictures of school counselors who attended from around the country.  Through social media, I could feel the excitement and the positive connections made at the conference. So being at home as a stalker, I decide that I wanted to share the highlights with other school counselors who were not able to attend the conference (aka #notatasca17).

Highlight #1: Motivational Speakers


#ASCA17 was not short on motivational speakers!!

Astronaut Mark Kelly started the ASCA Conference and lit up Twitter!



Carol Dweck presented great information on Mindsets.



Probably the most talked about speaker was Dr. Calvin Mackie and his encouragement for school counselors!




Highlight #2: Most Talked About Presentations!


Okay, there is no way I can include every great presentation, but I wanted to include those that had the most frequent posts on social media by school counselors at #ASCA17.  Some of the most mentioned topics on social media included Mindfulness, Mindsets, suicide awareness, and technology.

Katrice Grant: Keep Calm and Implement Mindfulness in Your School


What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is "maintaining a present-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations, or surrounding environment."

Benefits of Mindfulness:

Lowers stress
Improves impulse control
Improves focus and concentration
Increases self awareness
Develops empathy
Improves sleep
Improves ability to manage emotions

Want to know how mindfulness impacts the brain?  Go to this link for more information!



How to Bring Mindfulness to Your School Community?  According to Katrice there are four steps:

1.  You must become familiar with mindfulness by practicing it.
2.  Become trained in delivering mindfulness to others.
3.  Bring mindfulness into your sessions with students.
4.  Adopt a classroom and deliver as a lesson.

How to Become Skilled in Mindfulness?

The steps in becoming trained in mindfulness include taking a 12 week long training in two courses. These courses include:
  • Mindfulness Fundamentals (6 weeks)
  • Mindful Educator Essentials (6 weeks)
How to incorporate Mindfulness.  See the Mindfulness Action Plan below.
Mindfulness Action Plan

Additional Resources for Training:

Personal Practice (Free resources)
Headspace (free 10 day introduction)

Training Programs:


Videos for Introducing Mindfulness to Teens





Summer Perhay Kuba: Mindset Matters: Growing Young Minds



Summer introduces the differences between a fixed and growth mindset in her presentation.  What are these differences?

Fixed Mindset: This is the belief that intelligence, personality, and characteristics of a person are static.

Growth Mindset: This is the belief that intelligence, personality, and characteristics of a person can be continuously developed.

Kuba presented information on how students with a fixed mindset differ from students with a growth mindset.



Mindset Resources:

You Can Grow Your Intelligence


Jenny Cureton, Diane Stutey, and Janessa Henniger:  School Suicide Training


There were several presentations on self harm and suicide.  This presentation contained important federal and ASCA guidelines, school faculty training, and resources.

13 Reasons Why: How School Counselors Can Help

Model School Prevention on Suicide

Suicide Prevention Statutes Schools


Julia Taylor and Erin O'Malley: Suicide, Self-Harm, & Social Media: Helping Students Ask for Help


This presentation covered the ASCA Ethical Standards regarding suicide which includes:
  • Informing parents when there is a potential risk;
  • Consultation with other professionals;
  • Contact appropriate authorities.
In addition, the presenters covered media attention on suicide and the statistics on adolescent suicide.

Following information about statistics and the idea of contagion, the presenters covered barriers for students when asking for help.  These barriers include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness;
  • Many don't know what is wrong;
  • Fear of not being helped;
  • Stigma by others;
  • Previous negative experiences when reaching out;
  • Fear of not being believed;
  • Lack of trusted adults;
  • Lack of confidentiality;
  • Fear of consequences.
Last, Taylor and O'Malley covered what school counselors can do for suicide prevention/intervention. Some suggestions were:
  • Staff education
  • Awareness campaigns

Angela Cleveland: School  Counselor Technology Toolbox



Angela gave school counselors a tutorial on how technology can enhance a school counselor's job.

Technology Tool #1: Twitter

Angela covered the basics from using a hashtag to school counselors to follow on Twitter.  She added informed school counselors about Twitter Chats like:

#SCCHAT-1st Wednesday of each month @ 8 PM.
#PSYCHAT-Every Monday @ 9 PM.  I am going to start attending this one!!

Technology Tool #2: Pinterest

Angela introduced school counselor to other school counselors with amazing boards.

Technology Tool #3: Doodle

This is a calendar program that makes scheduling easy!

Technology Tool #4: Powtoon

Angela reviewed how to make a cartoon presentation with this tool.

Technology Tool #5: Social Media Groups

Angela introduced school counselors to the various groups on social media.

Want to see more of her presentation?  Angela has shared it on her website.

Nicohl Shelton Webb: Hype Your School Counseling Program With Tech-Savvy Tools


Technology Tool #1: Emaze

Emaze is an alternate form of presenting information that rivals power point.

Technology Tool #2: QR Codes

Go to website to present your information to your audience then download your code.

Technology Tool #3: Edpuzzle

Edpuzzle is a site that allows you to select a video and to customize it.

Technology Tool #4: Blendspace

Blendspace is a site that allows you to create digital lessons.

Technology Tool #5: Smore

Smore is a great site for creating and sharing newsletters, events, and information.

Technology Tool #6: Blogs

Here is a list of Nichol's favorite blogs (she included mine!)

http://savvyschoolcounselor.com/
http://www.thecollegesolution.com/tag/high-school-counselor/
http://forhighschoolcounselors.blogspot.com/
http://entirelyelementary.blogspot.com/
http://www.elementaryschoolcounseling.org/
http://www.schcounselor.com/
http://www.schoolcounselingbyheart.com/
http://creativeelementaryschoolcounselor.blogspot.com/
http://elemschoolcounselor.blogspot.com/
http://jyjoynercounselor.blogspot.com/

Samantha Latham, Kloe Rosso, Regan Estess, and Jennifer Curry: Using Pop Culture References to Engage Students in Career and College Readiness Development


Using Gottfredson's Theory of Circumscription and Compromise (Linda Gottfredson, 1981), the presenters discussed how this theory relates to the stages of childhood development.

For high school students, the presenters referenced the movies as Divergent, Hunger Games, and The Help.


Highlight #3: Great Quotes from #ASCA17 and #notatASCA17


#ASCA17

Amy Egizil: "Don't confuse my passion with anger. Passion contains an unspeakable hope." Calvin Mackie-one of my new heroes

Counselor Carey: What if we gave grades of "not yet" instead of F's.

Donna Clark: Instead of asking "what's wrong with you" ask "what happened to you." A better way to support students with life trauma

Elizabeth Bostick: "Your work will change lives yet unborn!" Calvin Mackie

Franciene Sabens: Counselors greeting students in the morning & when they leave makes a huge impact.

Franciene Sabens: There is never a reason to not communicate w/ those you work with. Timely & accurate communication

Jeannie Maddox: "I think following virtually gets better each year. The willingness to share is what makes our community so awesome." Dr. Mackie

Julie Baumgart: "Fail = Not Yet" Carol Dweck

Laura Ross: "It matters to students if you know their name!" -Sylinda Banks

#NotatASCA17


Connie Ward Johnson: I think following virtually gets better each year. The willingness to share is what makes our community so awesome.

Erin Mason: I love that people like feel the pain of those of us not there and work so hard to share virtually!

Erin Mason: Let's just call it what it is, a school counseling mutual admiration society!

Chris Belser: My is strong after seeing all of the posts and pics from Denver. Have fun, everyone!

Liz Vohar:  Was in the car answering questions! Home 4 some champagne to celebrate 9 years of marriage! TY for the convo tonight!


Melissa Arrigotti: Counselors are uniquely qualified to give our kids the hope they need to change the world.

Highlight #4: Big Announcements From ASCA


  • School counselors at a #RAMP school get free ASCA membership while at a school with current RAMP status.
  • Car give away!! The winner of the refurbished Mazda RX-8 was Sarah Crist of Charlotte - Mecklenburg Schools in N.C.


  • School Counseling Community Scholarship


Here is a promo for school counselors to see if you would like to contribute or apply!



Highlight #5: Missed #ASCA17?  Keep up by viewing these resources!


Social Media Highlights from #ASCA17-https://www.hashatit.com/hashtags/ASCA17

Notes from #ASCA17 shared by Jeff Ream-ASCA17 Notes

Other Resources:

After Suicide Toolkit Schools

Conversation Starters

Evidence Based School Counselor Conference

North Tahoe High School :College and Career Counseling Resources

Student/Career Profile Flipbook


Highlight #6: #NotatASCA17 Chat


I was honored to co-host the #NotatASCA Chat with Dr.  Erin Mason.  See the transcript below!


Highlight #7: #ASCA18!  



Goodbye Denver and hello Los Angeles for ASCA18!

Goodbye School Counselors!




Theme: Reach for the Stars!













Never attended an ASCA Conference?  It is never too late to start making preparations!  Check out these blog posts for attending the ASCA Conference in Los Angeles.

5 Tips for ASCA First Timer -Counselor Clique
Five More ASCA Tips for the Noob- Jeff Ream


Highlight #8: Making Connections After the Conference Through Social Media 


Just because ASCA is over doesn't mean you can't keep the conversation going!

Join #SCCROWD!


Hope (fingers crossed) to see you in Los Angeles!!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Get Ready for Next Year: 12 Tips for Novice School Counselors

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


This year marks my 18th anniversary since become a practicing school counselor!!  I can't believe how quickly time has passed and it occurred to me just how really unprepared I was for this role.  Initially, I started my career as an elementary school counselor and then moved to high school the following year.  The first day on the job I just remember feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to start.  Although I had fantastic and supportive colleagues, I often felt I was unprepared for the start of each school year.  Yes, it would have been amazing to have Pinterest, blogs to read, online social media groups or even Facebook pages that support school counselors; however, none of those things existed at that time (gosh I feel old).  So being clueless, I muddled through the first half of my career not sure of what I should be doing or how to do it. Therefore, I decided that I would make it my goal to help other counselors not to feel the same way!

So, I wanted to take my July 4th to give some tips to school counselors on how to start the year off right.  This post is by no means a guidebook, but I think it may provide some clarity and a lot of useful resources (I have searched countless counseling blogs, articles, and even ASCA to craft this post). Well, let's get to it!

Tips to Start the New Year 


#1 Request a Year Meeting With Your Administration



Okay, I cannot overemphasize the important of meeting with your principal or supervisor.  Here are where good counselors feel supported or become broken by the unrealistic expectations of administration.  Need help with talking to your administration about school counselor roles and responsibilities?  Download the Executive Summary from ASCA for a great overview of talking points.

#2 Get Your Office Student Ready



When I refer to getting your office ready for the school year, I mean looking past the decorations and concentrating on items that add value to your practice.

Here are some items that may be helpful to make your office more inviting for students.

Invest in Fidget Toys


Investing in fidget toys can be great for students and adults.  In fact, I use them all the time when I teach courses and it really helps the participants to focus.  The Inspired TreeHouse defines a fidget toy as an object which helps a student regulate his or her need for movement.  Check out the Ten Best Fidget Toys for Students from You Clever Monkey.  Also, check out the link for do-it-yourself fidget toys if you are on a limited budget.


Incorporate Calming Tools and Kits


Want to be ready for anxious, aggressive, or despondent students? Check out this free printable of what items can be useful for creating a student calm down kit.  Check out this link from www.andnextcomesL.com.


Himalayan Salt Lamp


Okay, I admit it.  This is something that I must have this year!  Whether it is hype or not, Himalayan salt lamps supposedly have many benefits.  Some of these benefits include:

Improved mood
Increased energy
Decreased stress
Increased performance
Purification of air


Interested in purchasing a salt lamp for your office? Click this link from Amazon.

Invest in Posters


One poster, in my opinion, that school counselors need in their office is regarding informed consent.  There are two reasons to have such a poster in your office: first, so you don't forget to give this information to students and second, to use as a reminder for the students as they may share information. Again, I will not endorse any seller or items on TPT, but I thought this one was really inexpensive and cute!




Want to see an office that already includes many of these elements?  Check out this counseling office from The School Counselor Life.

Also, discover my post on Shopping Tips for the Beginning of the New Year from 2016.


#3  Prepare and Create a Needs Assessment



Now that you have your office student ready, it is important to gather data about your program to discover what went well and what didn't go so well the previous year. If you are a new counselor, hopefully your colleagues have done this for you (of course, unless you are a lone wolf).  One quick and easy way to create a needs assessment is to use Google Forms.

Need a tutorial on how to create a needs assessment for your counseling program?  Check out this post by Ohio Elementary School Counselor Kate from Edukate and Inspire.


#4 Start Planning Your Year in Advance



Not that you have your needs assessment, it is time to start planning.  This was always the most difficult part of my job as a school counselor.  However, if you do not plan your time then someone else will!!  Here are some methods you can use to effectively plan out your school year.

Use a Counselor Planner


There is no lack of creative choices when it comes to counselor planners on Teacher's Pay Teachers.  I do not endorse any school counselor planners (I like to promote as much free resources as possible), but here are some that I found that you might like to invest in for 2017-18 school year.

The School Counselor Life

116 page planner with the following features:


-Cover Page
-Year-at-a-Glance Calendar
-Monthly Calendar Pages (August '17-July '18) with space to write monthly goals
-Weekly Calendar Pages (with times from 7am-4pm Monday-Friday)
-To-Do List Pages (divided into the following sections: Students to See, Parent Communication, Print/Copy/Laminate, Ongoing Projects, and Other To-Do)
-Large and Small Group Curriculum Logs/Planners
-Books/Articles to read log
-Important Contacts Log
-Professional Development Tracker
-Notes Section


Counselor  UP


Check out this comprehensive planner from Rebecca Atkins.

Features of this planner include:

• This Planner belongs to... page
• Color coded calendar at a glance
• Program Goals Page
• 6 curriculum pages
• 2 Group Plan pages
• Weekly Schedule and To Do list Pages July 2016-June 2017
• 6 Individual Counseling Log pages
• Lined Notes Pages
• Unlined Notes Pages
• Mandala Quote Pages for Coloring
• Printing Instructions

Designed to be printed on 8.5x11 but may print in other sizes through your printer settings.



The Middle School Counselor

 Editable school counselor planner that contains:


Editable Cover (enter your name, school, title, etc)
Planner Notes (to help you put it all together)
Section Dividers
Monthly Calendar Pages (for you to customize to fit your yearly goals and district needs, come in both a 1 page calendar with planner page or a 2 page calendar)
Weekly Calendar Pages (in both 7am-4pm fifteen minute increments and period by period-- you can also choose from a one page or two page weekly calendar.)
Weekly Worksheets (to keep track of your priorities and to do lists. These worksheets work perfectly with the one page calendar pages.)
Phone Log
Contact Information
Documentation Log
Student Visits Log

Password Keeper
Notes Page



This planner includes:

Weekly Schedule
Year and Month at a glance
Post It Note To Do Pages
Goal Setting Pages
Phone Call Logs
Notes and Reflection Pages



#5 Counselor Brochures for Stakeholders



It is important to educate your students, staff, and parents about your role and responsibilities as a school counselor.  One great way to do this is by creating and circulating a counseling brochure.  Here are some examples from different school counseling departments that may give you some ideas on creating your own.






Role of the School Counselor Description from ASCA

https://sites.google.com/site/earwshscounseling/
Brochure from Edward A. Reynolds West Side High
In addition to creating a counseling brochure, Jeannie Maddox from Exploring School Counseling blog suggests creating a parent introduction letter and your own business cards (you can order your business cards from Vista Print).  Check out number five on her list of tips for beginning the year for new counselors.


#6 Schedule Classroom Guidance Dates With Teachers


Early in the year, begin to ask your teachers to sign up for classroom guidance times before they get too busy or stressed out.  One way to accomplish this feat is to do it during preplanning.

Here is a form created by a school counselor for her teachers.

Counseling Classroom Sign Up form from Edukate and Inspire


#7 Create Appropriate Communication With Your Students



Make sure that your students know how they can communicate with you during the year. Some ways to effectively communicate include:

  • Have students complete a counseling appointment form for students to complete.  Here is a Google form that I created for my students. 
  • Consider setting up a Remind account to send out important dates, information, and communications.  
  • Consider creating a counseling blog to communicate information to students.  One blog that I think is super is Lassiter High School's Counseling Blog.

#8 Put Out a Yearly Calendar



It is important to put out a yearly calendar to inform students and parents of important dates and events. Here are some examples of yearly school calendars that might be useful as you create your own.


#9 Create Helpful Forms


Here are some examples of forms that may be helpful to you in your department.

Conference Notes

Counseling Appointment Form - Here is one I created to use with my students.

Counseling Notes   (Google Doc)


Counseling Notes  (Word Doc)

GPA Calculator for Students


Student Audit Sheet- Here is one I created for my school.

Senior Recommendation Packet-Here is an example from Etowah High School.


Senior Meeting Form -Here is a form I created for my students before meeting with them for their initial senior meeting.

#10 Make a Plan to Log Your Activities and Time



It is important to log your activities and time for your end of the year data.  One way to efficiently keep up with this information is to use this Time Task Analysis form.  Jeannie Maddox also suggests creating a data notebook for your program which can include a Cumulative Review.

#11 Establish Your Office Protocols



Establishing office protocols can be as simple as informing parents about when you will return phone calls, creating can responses for returning emails, setting up office hours and posting them on your door, or posting your weekly calendar.  It is important to establish these protocols early and educate your parents and students regularly.  This will save you a lot of headaches and other aches that we will not mention here.

See Jeff Ream's video on how to set up can responses for your email.


One Stop Counseling Shop has some great signs that can be posted outside of your door.


#12 Consultation

Consultation is imperative if you are a school counselor!  You never know when you may face an ethical and/or legal issue that you need to run past a colleague, professor, or fellow counselor. Want to connect to other counselor (especially if you are a party of one)? If you have time during the week, consider joining one of these communities for some great conversations.

#hscchat - High School Counselor Chat hosted by Amber Shepherd  - chat will be the second Monday of every month.

#scNOTaluxury - New School Counselor Chat hosted by Shujuan Hill Shannon.

#scchat  - School Counseling Chat

#etmooc - Chat about educational technology

#sccrowd - School Counselor Crowd - Q & A Day for school counselors-This is an awesome live chat moderated by Ross Wolfson and Susan Spellman Cann every third Tuesday from 8:30-9:30 EST.  Find resources to help in your school practice; get answers to complex situations; or find out if others are facing the same situations you may face in your school.


Other Resources


Want more tips for starting the beginning of the year?  Check out this post from The Helpful Counselor. 



Also here are some of my past posts that you might find helpful as you get ready for the new year.






66 Resources For School Counselors

Do you have any tips for getting ready for the start of the new year for new or novice school counselors?  Please share your tips!!


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Can't Make it to ASCA17? Become a Virtual Attendee!

Saturday, July 1, 2017


As you may or may not know, the date of the American School Counselor conference is rapidly approaching and this year's destination is the mile high city of Denver, Co!  Unfortunately for me, I have not been able to physically attend the conference for the last three years (sigh).  Okay, I am really disappointed that my budget will not accommodate this conference, but I have to be realistic that I can't always get what I want...pardon the Rolling Stones lyric.

BUT, don't cry for me Argentina (I know stop the music lyric references)!  The good news is that not all is lost for me or for you if you can't attend the conference!  In fact for the last three years, I have been able to attend some really great conference forums and virtual sessions.

Do you find yourself in this situation? Want to attend ASCA17 virtually?  Here is what you can do...

First, check out the virtual sessions available for each day:

Saturday, July 8th

Sunday, July 9th

Monday, July 10th

Tuesday, July 11th

Note: these session will set you back a couple of hundred dollars.

Second, download the app from Google or Apple to find descriptions/handouts of sessions.

Third, follow the conference on Twitter.  Each year, #notatASCA counselors tweet out information shared from conference attendees.

Fourth, read blog posts from conference and nonconference attendees (I bet there will be some good ones!).  I will be following these authors...

Carol Miller

Franciene Sabens

Jeff Ream

Rebecca Atkins

Fifth, consider supporting the School Counselor Community Scholarship  for counselors with limited budgets who want to attend ASCA18 next year in Los Angeles!

Last, stay tuned for my blog post regarding the ASCA conference called ASCA from my Couch!


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Trauma Informed Practices: Resources for School Counselors

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Even though it was my first real week off of work, I suddenly remembered I had signed up for a class on the brain back in May (what was I thinking!).  Truly, it is difficult to drag yourself to a training that starts in the middle of the day and ends at 5:00!  However, I dragged myself to my car and made the 20 mile journey to take the first of three courses that was sponsored free by Georgia State University!

Note:  If you live in the state of Georgia, Georgia State University is offering a series of courses on Trauma and Brain Development. These courses include:

Trauma 101 and 201
Brain 101 and 201
Brain/Trauma Capstone
Community Team Building


Disclaimer: Since I am not an expert in neuroscience or trauma, the information shared in the blog was gathered in a three day training by Georgia State University.

The purpose of my post is to share with school counselors some of the information that I learned about the adolescent brain and the results of childhood trauma.  So before you start reading this post, let me give you some reasons why school counselors should be more informed about brain science and the fundamentals of childhood trauma.

Reason #1
.Jane Webber, Associate Professor of the New Jersey City University, says that trauma is not a one time event, but happens to students everyday.

Reason #2
Trauma has a direct impact on student learning (McInerney and McKlindon).

Reason #3
Counselors can provide care and safety to students who have faced complex trauma (McCorry).

Reason #4

Understanding the brain may help school counselors better understand how to help our most difficult students and parents.

What is the Big Deal About the Brain?


First, let's discuss the brain and why we, as school counselors, need to be educated on the latest science.

The impact of trauma (which includes such factors as poverty, violence, abuse, etc) can change the DNA of individuals and their children. This process is known as epigenetics.

What is Epigenetics?  Watch this video for a breakdown.


Students who are exposed to trauma over an extended period time have an overworked mid-brain which means they are wired for survival. These students often stay in survival mode (often act out) even when in they are in what we consider safe environments.

A thinking (learning) brain and a doing (high alert) brain cannot operate in the same space. If a student is on high alert, it is a difficult for him or her to learn.


When children experience positive relationships in a safe environment, resiliency can be developed. As school counselors, it is important to help students develop these strategies.
Resource alert!  Want to learn more about developing resiliency in students?  Check out this video from the Center of the Developing Child by Harvard University.

Also, check out the Resiliency quiz that can be given to your students by Nan Henderson.

How Does Trauma Impact Children and Adolescent Development?



The ACE Study (Adverse Childhood Experiences)

This study was conducted in the late 90s by an insurance company and picked up by the CDC. The study contains some essential information which is important for school counselors to know.

1. Adverse childhood experiences impact the ability for students to multitask and keep up with their schoolwork.

2.  Keeping a job is more than just learning job skills or career awareness, but includes teaching soft skills like writing a resume, interviewing, communication, listening, conflict resolution, etc.

3. Many of our students' parents have an ACE score of 10 and often minimize their own trauma. In minimizing their own trauma, they will do the same for their children.

4. One out of every four students in schools are exposed to trauma.

5. The higher the ACE score the higher the death rate for these individuals.

Interested in knowing your ACE score? You can take the ACES Questionnaire to find out your  score.


Resource Alert!  Want to know more about the ACE Study, watch this short video.


How Trauma Impacts Our Students...Don't Underestimate its Impact!!


If you work in a school, you know that students may have many adverse experiences.  Here is a short list of traumatic situations for our students.


Traumatic Situations for Students


What is Child Trauma?
Although children will face traumatic situations in their lifetime (natural disaster or death), the type of trauma that rewires the brain occurs over and over. 

Here is a review of the types of trauma students will experience:
Acute: one single event (natural disaster or loss of parent)
Chronic: multiple events (child experiences a natural disaster in which the parent dies and because of the disaster child loses home).
Complex: chronic multiple events, whether real or perceived, that happen over time (child abuse, neglect, abandonment, etc.)  

What makes complex trauma most concerning is the absence of a caring adult (this is the biggest piece). Often, the caregiver has inflicted or neglected to protect the child from trauma.  
This is the type of trauma that changes the brain!!!
Responses to Stress by Students 
We all have stress in our lives.  It is important to be aware of the three types of stress that students can experience and when the stress can be damaging.
1.   Positive Stress: taking a test, getting ready for vacation, or participating in sports.
2.   Tolerable Stress: changing friendships, starting school, ending of school, test taking, or failing at a task.

3.   Toxic: poverty, living in violent environment, or abuse by a parent.

In toxic stress, the stress the student experiences does not go away because there is often a lack of support.

Stress Response Cycle

When students experience toxic stress, their brain experiences a change due to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol.  Here are some changes students may experience:
  • Changes in behavior;
  • Always being in survival mode due to the release of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • A student's "doing and thinking" brain cannot act in the same space. In a crisis, a student's "doing" brain activates and his or her "thinking" brain ceases to operate (a student cannot control his or her stress hormone nor how his or her body feels);
  • For a student's body to self-regulate, his or her hippocampus must return the body to a normal state. This may take a longer period of time for some students;
  • After a stressful event, a student will usually seek support to help process the event;
  • Following the event, if a similar event occurs, a student's body may have the same stress response; 
  • The stress response remains in effect for children who have repeated trauma (even in safety).
How Does Trauma Impact Adolescents?

The impact of trauma depends on:

1.       The nature of the event (how traumatic the event).
2.      The child’s subjective response to it. Note: not all children process trauma in the same way.

How Our View of Trauma is Formed?

1.      Age and stage of child during the trauma.
2.      Victim or witness of the trauma.
3.      Relationship to victim and/or perpetrator.
4.      Perception of danger.
5.      What happened following the trauma?
6.      Past experiences with trauma.
7.      Presence and availability of nurturing relationships.
Effects of Trauma for Students
So now that we know the impact of trauma, let's discuss the effects on our students.
  • Attachment in relationships which can include the lack of boundaries or isolation (running away, lack of trust or too trusting, rejecting others, sabotaging relationships);
  • Biological changes in the brain;
  • Lack of mood regulation;
  • Dissociation, detachment, depersonalization, or withdrawal from the world. Examples include: daydreaming, lack of empathy, referring to self in 3rd person, antisocial behavior, false sense of reality, inappropriate dress, lack of belonging;
  • Lack of behavioral control, poor impulse, self destructive behavior, or destructive behavior (bullying, social isolation, profanity, lack of empathy, attention seeking, no boundaries, tantrums, impulsivity);
  • Cognition or learning problems;
  • Poor self-concept, body image, self esteem, shame, and guilt (this can be the one factor that school counselors can impact the quickest!) Examples include: over compensating (becoming bullies to keep people from hurting them), self harming behaviors, and at-risk behaviors;
  • Developmental issues which interfere with appropriate developmental skills. Examples include: speech delay, potty training, lack of cognitive abilities, problem solving skills, return to baby like behavior (immature).

How Can School Counselors Effectively Deal With Trauma in Students?


I always like to include a section in my posts about how school counselors can make a positive impact in students' lives.  Truly, when we deal with trauma in adolescents, it seems like a insurmountable task; however, it is not impossible to make a positive impact!
ASCA has provided a position statement that gives an overview of the role of the school counselor in promoting trauma sensitive environments. 
1.  Educate yourself!
First to assist students who are experiencing trauma, school counselors need to be trauma aware.  From this awareness, school counselors can recognize signs in their students. 
2.  Be involved in creating a trauma informed organization
Educate all involved parties (teachers, administrators, parapros, clerical staff) on trauma awareness and the disruptions caused by childhood trauma.
Encourage the infusion of trauma awareness in your organization's  practices/policies.
Collaborate with other agencies and professionals.
Provide social-emotional learning strategies and behavioral interventions.
Seek the best available science to support children and families recovery/resiliency.
The free downloadable ebook, Helping Traumatized Students Learn, provides an action plan for schools to develop a trauma sensitive perspective.  Download additional resources from Trauma Sensitive Schools.

An additional resource: Building a Trauma Aware School can produce guidance on how to build a trauma competent schools.

3. Build resilience in your students
Resilience is the capacity to prepare for disruptions, recover from shocks and stresses, and adapt and grow from a disruptive experience. Resilience is built over time as students interact with positive people and environments.

Three Factors for Building Resilience

Safety: the extent to which a child is free from fear and feels secure from physical and psychological harm.

Stability: the degree of predictability and consistency in the child's environment.

Nurturing: the extent to which an adult is available and able to consistently and sensitively respond to a child's needs.

Resource alert! Check out this resource on how school counselors can foster resilience in students.

4. Start small

One challenge, given by our trainer, was for school counselors to partner with a teacher to identify one traumatized student. The goal is to build resiliency skills in this student to help him or her develop the ability to overcome the trauma he or she has experienced.  If you want to take this challenge, consider downloading the free ebook from Trauma Sensitive Schools for a guide on how to build resiliency in your students.

Now that you have a bit of awareness about trauma and its impact on our students, you may want to  do a little professional development on your own. Here are some additional resources that you can explore to discover training, research, and more trauma informed practices.  As always, if you have resources you would like to share please feel free to comment!!

Training

ASCA Trauma and Crisis Management Specialist
Creating a Trauma Informed School
Prepare Crisis Training-Training sponsored by the National Association of School Psychologists related to school crisis and prevention.
Trauma Training for Educators (Free)

Organizations



Resources

Trauma Informed Practices
Child Trauma Toolkit
Safe Healthy and Ready to Learn
Helping Kids During Crisis
Transforming Trauma
Disaster Mental Health Resources from American Counseling Association

Trauma Webinars


Brain 101, Trauma 101, and Brain/Trauma 201

Georgia State University

Brain101
Trauma 101
Trauma 201