Helping pupils cope with trauma

David Trickey, Consultant Clinical Psychologist & Manager, Specialist Assessment and Treatment Services, Clinical Course Tutor CYP IAPT (AFC/UCL) lists five sensible and pragmatic principles, informed by the evidence, that can be very helpful in guiding the response of professionals and those around the child or young person who has experienced the event.

1. Increase sense of safety

What can be done to make this young person feel safer? Are they worried that it will happen again or that they may be involved in some way? Sometimes the intervention of the police can help, other times they just need reassurance and someone to listen to their concerns with a view to making a plan for how they can ensure that they are safe.

2. Enable calming

What strategies does the young person have to help them to calm down? Are they still engaging in activities (sport, socialising) that would help them to calm down, or are they constantly on edge? Who is best placed to help them to calm - teachers, carers?


3. Enhance social support                                       

Do they need a bit of help to continue to connect with their social support or do the family need some help to support them? Sometimes young people isolate themselves at these times - just when it can be really helpful to be with others.


4. Efficacy

In the rush to try to help - sometimes others end up making the young person feel even more powerless. They don’t usually need a specialist to come rushing in to do something to fix them. But they are more likely to need someone that that already know and trust to encourage them, support them, listen to them and help them plan what they are going to do.


5. Optimism

What are their plans for the future?