Our school-based services are delivered through a model that we call The Therapeutic Classroom. The school provides us with a space large enough to host groups, give kids space to move around in, and have a couple different spaces for de-escalating. We provide the rest – at least one full time therapist who is committed to being in The Therapeutic Classroom during all school hours, and furniture, lighting, and tools to aid in providing a calming experience for students (and often teachers as well).
The basic tenants of our program are that kids that have been traumatized, or live in a lot of chaos, often respond to perceived threats with a fight, flight, or freeze response. The result, many times, is a teacher or an administrator that perceives this response as an act of defiance. The school then responds with a disciplinary response to this student’s behavior. This often escalates the situation, many times resulting in suspension. We work in schools to create trauma informed environments through a few different means:
1. Our therapists model this on a daily basis (they are available to the school and children during all school hours). They are called in to respond to difficult situations and work to model what a trauma informed response looks like.
2. Children have a place they can come to deescalate, learn relaxation/coping techniques, be heard etc. They also receive individual, group, and family counseling on a regular basis, as well as case management for the families as needed.
3. We work to provide training on trauma informed schools etc. Our therapists become an integral part of the schools, doing classroom observation, working closely with teachers, attending staff meetings, IEP meetings etc. We believe that counseling in schools can be a powerful opportunity for kids, families, school personnel, and the community when they are delivered in a relevant, accessible way.