School Counsellors play a central role in identifying students with refugee experiences, assessing their support needs, coordinating the support services at school and, perhaps most importantly, they work hard to build rapport with students and create a welcoming space where students can seek support at challenging times.
At Hints for Healing, we seek to support School Counsellors by presenting research, stories, interviews, resources and case studies on how school counsellors can build on their existing knowledge and skillset to enhance the wellbeing and resettlement of children and young people recovering from refugee trauma.
In addition to the resources you find here at Hints for Healing, there are several other ways that STARTTS supports School Counsellors in their work with students with refugee experiences:
- A suite of Professional Learning modules and tailored training sessions, free of charge for schools. Flexible approaches to delivery, including face to face and virtual presentations, interactive workshops and guest speakers
- Specialist consultation services to counsellors working with students with refugee experience
- Supporting schools to adopt a whole-school approach to promoting the wellbeing of students with refugee experiences
- Specialist resources for schools, teachers and counsellors (e.g. Settling In and Jungle Tracks)
- Collegial networks of educators and school counsellors focused on supporting the wellbeing and education of students with refugee experiences
- Partnerships with schools on school-led initiatives
School Liaison Team Leader, Shaun Nemorin, has created a series of professional learning presentations on the topics of Vicarious Trauma, Vicarious Resilience and Self Care. These videos may assist professionals in the helping professions (such as counsellors, educators and social workers), who work with survivors of refugee trauma. The presentations highlight the potential risks, challenges and opportunities for personal growth, when engaging empathically and professionally with people who have experienced trauma.
This introductory video provides an overview of STARTTS services to schools and provides an outline of the contents of the six videos that make up this series. The presentation also outlines why it is important that we recognise the signs of vicarious trauma, both for ourselves and those around us.
Consequences of Trauma
The STARTTS Biopsychosocial Model is used to conceptualise the multi-level impact of trauma on the individual. The presentation also takes a deeper look at the impact of trauma and vicarious trauma on the brain, highlighting difficulties such as impaired concentration, memory, attention and emotional regulation that can arise.
Impacts on the Practitioner
Vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue and burnout are defined and presented as occupational hazards that can be managed to reduce their impact on practitioners, their clients and the other people in practitioners’ lives. Factors such as work environment, professional status, professional recognition and personal life are discussed with respect to the influence they have on vicarious trauma and associated difficulties. The positive impacts of empathically engaging with clients, such as compassion satisfaction, vicarious resilience and post-traumatic growth, are also discussed.
Karpman’s Drama Triangle is used as a model to explain how practitioners can easily get drawn into the role of “rescuer,” “victim,” or “persecutor” if professional boundaries with clients/students are poorly managed. It is also shown how the Karpman model can be used to identify when boundaries have been crossed by practitioners or when transference (feeling, desires or expectations being projected onto the practitioner by the client/student) or countertransference (feelings, desires or expectations projected onto the client/student by the practitioner) may be occurring. Strategies for exiting the drama triangle are also highlighted. Finally, a continuum of over-involvement to under-involvement is discussed as an aid for identifying current dynamics between practitioner and client/student and for recognising the optimal level of engagement for practitioner and client/student wellbeing.
Resilience and Post-Traumatic Growth
The positive transformations that can emerge out of empathic and professional engagement with survivors of traumatic events are discussed. The presenter highlights how greater awareness of post-traumatic growth and vicarious resilience can increase the likelihood of practitioners benefiting from these phenomena. Conditions that promote opportunities for emotional resilience are also examined.
Self Care and Seeking Support
Self-compassion is presented as a helpful foundational framework for nurturing good self-care. John Arden’s SEEDS model is then discussed in detail and recommended as a model for taking stock of the precursors for good mental and physical health for both clients/students and the practitioners. The importance of reaching out and seeking support in both professional and private domains is emphasised as a critical self-care skill for professionals in the helping professions.