As we begin this most unusual school year, many of us are wondering if our students will return to us traumatized by the pandemic. And if they are traumatized…how do we best support them?!? That is why I’m sharing a review today of the book Helping in Hard Places: Trauma Informed School Counseling, which provides counselors with trauma-informed lessons and sessions to support both students who have and have not experienced trauma. Arguably, we have ALL experienced a collective trauma since the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) categorizes a pandemic as a traumatic experience (2018). As a result, I was thrilled when an experienced and best-practice school counselor, Laura Filtness, offered to share her experience with this trauma-informed book. Laura is also the Director of Communications for the Tennessee School Counselor Association!
So without further ado, I’ll turn the rest of this guest post over to Laura…
Helping in Hard Places: Trauma Informed School Counseling
A Book Review by Laura Filtness
Helping in Hard Places: Trauma-Informed School Counseling is easy to understand, full of resources, and makes you want to get back into the classroom to start implementation right away. While I have found some counselor specific books to be dry, this was not! Her personal stories kept the book so lively that I read it on the beach this summer. I even found a new title to add to my collection, How Are You Feeling, Juan Pablo Chameleon? By Dan St. Romain.
This timely book has it all: individual session outlines, a small group curriculum, 9 class lessons, and a distance learning piece for each of the three areas.
Stephanie writes, the “SFBC is THE go-to model for counseling in schools.” It is for me, so her incorporation of the model makes her suggestions practical and easy to implement. For example, ensuring that each child has a goal that is “relevant to them.” So often I find myself trying to help students set a goal (grades, attendance, behavior in class), but am I taking the time to slow down and ensure the goal is personally meaningful to them? The book is full of amazing SBFC questioning guides which help me make sure I am setting relevant goals, and even her teacher feedback form is goal-focused.
Incredibly valuable are the pointers on selecting students to work with. I have often seen assessments and referrals turn into an individual counseling to-do list. So, the data-based and ASCA aligned suggestions are crucial for counselors serving students through a data-driven MTSS program.
As Stephanie notes “application is an effective way to transfer information from short-term memory into long-term memory, where we want the child to keep their session skills.” With that in mind, she provides you tips on ending services and transitioning the student so you and the child don’t lose momentum, which I know firsthand can easily happen.
I can’t wait to use this wonderful resource as we re-enter school!
-Laura Filtness, School Counselor
Connect with Laura at her blog or her Teachers Pay Teachers store:
If you need more trauma-informed ideas for this school year, check out my earlier post on this topic!
That brings me to the end of this August counseling post. Please leave a comment because I’d love to hear about your favorite counseling books! You can catch up with me again for my monthly counseling post that I share during the first weekend of every month. In the meantime, you can find out about my latest promotions, free stuff, or counseling adventures by following me on my School Counselor Stephanie Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest pages.