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How Trauma Coaches Help Children in Crisis

General Steps in the Helping Process  A basic principle of working with children in disasters is that they are essentially normal children who have experienced great stress. Most of the problems that appear are likely therefore to be directly related to the disaster and transitory in nature. Te process recommended for helping children and families often starts with“crisis intervention,” which trained and supervised paraprofessionals and volunteers can provide. Te primary goal in crisis intervention is to identify, respond to, and relieve the stresses resulting from the crisis (disaster) and to reestablish normal functioning as quickly as possible. Sometimes the reaction is mild, but other times it is severe. Also, the workers must be trained to recognize when the condition is mild and can be handled by the families (with guidance), when referral to a helper, such as a school counselor is warranted, and when it is severe and requires intervention by a mental health professional. Te general steps in the helping process are: 1. Establishing rapport  Let the children know you are interested in them and want to help. Check with the children to make sure that they understand what you are

saying and that you understand them. Display genuine respect and regard for the children and their families. Communicate trust and promise only what you can do. Convey acceptance of the children and their families. Communicate to the children and their families that you are an informedauthority.

21Helping the Child and Family 2. Identifying, defining, and focusing on the problem Identify and prioritize specific problems with the children, parents, andfamily. Select a specific problem, define its characteristics, and focus on solving itfirst.  Achieve a quick resolution to the problem so that the members of thefamily experience a sense of success and control. Evaluate the seriousness of each of the identified problems and the capac-ity of the family to deal with them. 3. Understanding feelings Demonstrate your ability to see and feel as others do. Display patience in trying to understand children’s feelings, for childrenare frequently unable to express their fears. Respond to the children’s stories frequently by commenting on the eventsand affirming their feelings. Express a nurturing positive regard for the children, to convey an appre-ciation for the kind and intensity of their feelings.  4. Listening carefully  Understand the disaster concerns from the point of view of the children. Listen to the children’s account of the disaster many times, in order tohelp children “work through” their feelings associated with the disaster. Refrain from interrupting the children as they tell their stories.  Affirm children’s feelings by giving them time to express themselves. 5. Communicating clearly Communicate in a language children understand.  alk with children in groups or with siblings or other family members. Seek the presence of family members to interpret code words used by thechildren. Communicate with children in their dominant language.

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