Bill & Pete's Excellent Newsletter

Self Care

May 2016 Trauma Informed Newsletter

As the school year is coming to a close, staff and students may experience a wide variety of emotions including stress and anxiety. It is important to remain consistent with rituals, routines, and classroom management. This newsletter includes strategies and an article about how to take care of yourself.
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Self-Care: Great Dane, Great Stress Relief

Ms. Shier takes a few moments of self care reading to Charlie.

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Therapy Dogs

Mr. Shanedling and scholar relaxing with Annie

Tips for Self Care and Resiliency

Key Vocabulary/Concepts
Vicarious (or secondary) Trauma: a process through which the caregiving individual’s own internal experience becomes transformed through engagement with the student’s traumatic material.

Vicarious: To feel through the experience of others; a secondary rather than primary experience with significant impact.

Compassion Fatigue/Burnout: Occurs when the ongoing effects of vicarious trauma are not addressed: Empathy is gradually replaced by cynicism and the relationship is injured, weakened, or stretched beyond appropriate boundaries.

Self-care: The collection of strategies we use to prevent or alleviate the symptoms of vicarious trauma.

Compassion satisfaction: The good feelings professionals have when they go to work, regardless of their performance and the outcomes.

Vicarious Resilience: The process of clinicians learning about overcoming adversity from the trauma survivors they work with. The positive transformation and empowerment in the caregiver through empathic engagement with the stories of trauma and resilience of their clients as a result.

Main ideas:

Resilient students need resilient teachers. Good content teaching requires modeling of skills, and attitudes. If teachers themselves are barely coping, if teachers cannot bounce back from the challenges they face, how are they to sustain the strength needed to promote resiliency among their students?

(Wolpow and Askov, 2008)

Working day after day with aggressive or withdrawn students who don’t respond to Tier 1 interventions can take its toll. Often these are students who have complex or developmental trauma. The ripple effect of a student’s trauma can take the form of PTSD-like symptoms such as irritability, change in appetite, diminished concentration, or detachment. When empathy for a student’s suffering leads to an internalizing of frightening realities not personally experienced, we call this vicarious (secondary) trauma. Yes, the experience of the trauma is vicarious; however, the symptoms are very real. Teachers who have experienced trauma in their own lives may find they are especially susceptible to vicarious trauma. This is because reports of similar incidents from their students may re-activate their old symptoms. For example, it is not unusual for a teacher who recently lost a parent in an accident to become teary-eyed when she learns that a student’s parent suddenly died. When vicarious trauma goes unaddressed, it can lead to burnout.