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Trauma Sensitive School-Based Practice in Turbulent Times
Kim Barthel, BMR, OTR.jpeg

Kim Barthel

Originally Recorded on August 12, 19, 26, September 3, 2020 

CEUs: 6 Contact Hours (.6 AOTA CEUs)

Course Level 
OT, PT, SLP, educators, social workers, mental health professionals, and interested others
Course Description

The situation we are experiencing with COVID-19 is considered a collective trauma. Within this collective experience, emotional and behavioral responses are as varied as the number of humans on the planet. It is affecting us all, how we manage our own feelings and how we relate to one another. Adding to the ongoing uncertainty of issues related to the pandemic is a heightened awareness of racial injustice, political division and for many of us, an uncertain future. This unique series of four live webinars will address the dynamics of heightened emotion, allowing teachers and school-based practitioners to explore trauma-sensitive practice in real-time - bringing the theory into action. Appreciating the potential impacts of both early developmental trauma and current unpredictable events upon teaching and learning offers practitioners deeper insight and compassionate curiosity about how to support our students returning to school in the fall.

Session 1
How Trauma Impacts Behavior 

This session will highlight the impact of developmental trauma, experiential trauma and collective trauma on brain development as it relates to regulation, relationships and learning. Appreciating attachment as a resilience factor supports the need for attuned relationships as a primary intervention in times of significant stress and uncertainty. The wide-ranging reactions to COVID-19 and the heightened awareness of racial injustice issues in our current social context will be emphasized.



4:00 – 5:00 pm: Defining trauma & its impact on brain development and learning. Discussion of the reactions to COVID-19 and racial injustice in the context of trauma experiences

5:00 – 5:30 pm: Attachment as it relates to trauma experiences

Session 2
Cultivating Resilience / Nurturing Hope

This session will support professionals in learning to cultivate their own resilience, hold space for themselves, and further their critical self-care process. The science of resilience, gratitude and hope will be explored to inspire courage, stamina and sustainability in facing the real challenges in front of us. Practical examples will emphasize skills that empower teachers and school-based practitioners to take care of themselves both when they are with their students in the moment and when they are between classes/sessions. Teachers and school-based practitioners will be supported in their ability to become their best selves - to enhance the learning outcomes of their students.


4:00 – 4:30 pm: Understanding & fostering resilience

4:30 – 5:00 pm: Self-care skills for teachers and school-based practitioners 

Session 3
Developing Trauma-Sensitive Relational Skills in the Classroom

This session will offer inter-personal skill development that is applicable to both in-person and virtual educational settings. Attunement skills that create safety for learners will be highlighted as integral components of function and learning. Compassionate communication and skills of holding space during behavioral escalations will be emphasized. Ideas will be shared about building community in educational contexts, even when physical distancing and masks may be required.


4:00 – 4:30 pm: Understanding and fostering attunement

4:30 - 5:00 pm: Holding space for others

5:00 – 5:30 pm: Building community in educational contexts

Session 4
Supporting Self-Regulation to Maximize Learning

This session will deepen the understanding of the development of self-regulation and the impact of stress and trauma on our management of arousal states. Interventions will be introduced that address regulation through healthy relationships, sensory-motor strategies and cognitive approaches. A special emphasis will be on the importance and practicality of considerations that support movement, alignment, breathing and mindfulness in a range of learning settings – at school and at home.


4:00 – 4:30 pm: Understanding self-regulation

4:30 – 5:30 pm: Practical strategies to foster self-regulation

Course Objectives:

1. Identify how developmental trauma affects the developing brain, learning and behavior.
2. Monitor self-awareness to enhance therapeutic use of self.
3. Describe how skills of attunement can improve relationships between students and teachers as well as students with each other.
4. List several co-regulation skills important for therapists to use when supporting emotionally dysregulated students.

Course Requirements

For recorded session viewing: Following the passing score of 80% on the post-course quiz, the participant will be sent a course completion certificate.

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