Becoming Trauma Informed

Tuesday, May 17 2016

Daystar Center

Presenter: Jacob Dancer, III LCSW from UCAN



  • Recognize the importance of being trauma-informed.
  • Understand the symptoms of trauma.
  • Understand the impact of trauma on youth.
  • Understand the Universal Precautions Approach to trauma.
  • Understand how your role can make an impact as a protective factor.


What is childhood trauma?

  • The experience of an event by a child that is emotionally painful or distressful which often results in lasting mental and physical effects. (NIMH)

Trauma training  






What are some behaviors (symptoms) might you see from students?

  • Heightened responses
  • Agitation
  • Difficulty focusing and following your presentation
  • Tired due to sleep disturbances
  • Easily angered
  • Difficulty trusting guests in the classroom

Trauma training group photo






Jacob guided participants through the symptoms of childhood trauma, the biology of trauma, and its impact on students’ school experience. Jacob then introduced the Universal Precautions as ways community partners can support students in the classroom. 

Universal Precautions Approach to Trauma – The 5 Ss:

  • Safety
  • Support
  • Self-Soothing
  • Strengths
  • Self-Care









As a community partner visiting a classroom, you can create a safe and supportive environment for students. Below are a few suggestions and examples. Further details can be found in the powerpoint here:


(Becoming Trauma Informed 5 Ss Table as a PDF)

SAFETY Example: Instead:
Be consistent The classroom expectation is that one student talks at a time. Follow through with class rules – ensure that each student talking has “the floor” (instead of allowing students to talk over each other).
Be predictable Your program will address two objectives during your lesson. Visually show students what is the outline for the day and follow it.
Avoid false promises Next session you want to bring in a guest speaker the students are excited about. Ensure the person is scheduled, knows where and when to be, and who they will be talking to (instead of them guessing what is next and when it is over).
Watch body language A student become excited or agitated during a lesson. Try to maintain a calm and moderate tone of voice, relaxed posture and facial expressions, and give the student space (instead of crowding them).


SUPPORT Example: How to respond:
Validate and normalize emotions Before your lesson, a student tells you that he is really upset about a family member who was injured over the weekend. Acknowledge that how the student is feeling is normal. Thank them for sharing. If the student uses a self-soothing technique (e.g., deep breaths, count to ten, sing a song in his head), encourage the student to use it if needed during your lesson.


Model self-soothing techniques At the beginning of each lesson, take two minutes to introduce a self-soothing technique to the class, such as rubbing hands together. Practice it.


STRENGTHS Example: Do:
Includes Individual, Family, and Community strengths, as well as Cultural Protective Factors. Cultural Protective factors allow students to have a strong sense of cultural identity and community. Use positive, strong examples that represent the cultural background of the audience. A classroom is a small community – foster a positive classroom identity (a “family” of young scholars).


SELF-CARE Example:
You matter, too! Teaching students to care for themselves means taking care of yourself.  Take the Self-Care Assessment.


When students share, I say or do











Participants had an opportunity to reflect on how they might maximize safety and support youth in their programs. Activity:

“Create a safe classroom” graphic organizer



For more information about trauma click here: Trauma Resources

Self Care Inventory



If you are looking to plan a training for your staff, here is a list of Community Partners to contact (some trainings may include fees):


Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center (ChicagoCAC)
Julia Strehlow, MSW, LCSW
Education & Outreach Manager


Chicago Children’s Center for Behavioral Health
Dina Levi, LPC, NCC
Director of Business Development

Fatima Villasenor, MSW
Clinical Community Liaison
(312) 491-5497


CIS of Chicago 
Melissa Richardson, LCPC
Mental Health Support Specialist
SUMMER ONLY: Available over the summer to address topics such as non-clinical approaches to trauma, triggers, and recognizing signs and symptoms.


Riveredge Hospital
Amanda Norris
Community Liaison

Matt Schappell
Community Liaison


Jacob Dancer, III LCSW
360 Community Program Manager


Hartgrove Hospital 
Joanne Kolodziejczak, Referral Communications Coordinator






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