Practice Brief: Effective Programs to Address Trauma in Schools

Prepared by Pamela Vona, MA, MPH, USC; Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, Treatment and Services Adaptation Center for Resilience, Hope and Wellness in Schools, and University of Washington School Mental Health Assessment, Research & Training (SMART) Center

In the United States, children and adolescents are exposed to violence and other traumatic events at alarming rates. Numerous studies have documented the short-and long-term consequences of exposure to violence and other traumatic events on children and adolescents. Despite these negative consequences, few children and adolescents receive appropriate care. This is particularly true for low-income, ethnic-minority youth. Schools have been shown to reduce barriers to mental health care. Given the high rates of trauma exposure and the central role schools can play enhancing access to care, it’s essential that school-based counselors and mental health providers receive training in evidence-based trauma interventions.

This Practice Brief describes three of the most commonly used effective school-based interventions for trauma and the importance of creating a “trauma-informed” school community in order to optimize these interventions.

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