What is Trauma?
“Trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being” (Source: SAMHSA)
What is a Trauma Informed Approach?
“Trauma-informed approach incorporates three key elements: (1) realizing the prevalence of trauma; (2) recognizing how trauma affects all individuals involved with the program, organization, or system, including its own workforce; and (3) responding by putting this knowledge into practice”. (Source: SAMHSA)
Signs of Trauma in Students
The signs and symptoms of a person who has experience trauma range widely from crying, to numbness, to denial, and everything in between. Below are possible responses to trauma.
- Emotional: Feelings of anger, fear, sadness, and shame. Feeling overwhelmed or feeling numb.
- Physical: Sleep disturbances; gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neurological, musculoskeletal, respiratory, and dermatological disorders; urological problems; and substance use disorders.
- Cognitive: Overreactions to situations; excessive guilt; idealizations; delusions; hallucinations; intrusive thoughts/memories; triggers/flashbacks; disassociation.
- Behavioral: Self-medicating, compulsive behaviors (such as overeating); impulsive behaviors; risk taking; self-injury.
How to respond to Trauma
- Employees of the college, unless specified as a confidential resource (Ex. Clinicians in Counseling Services) are required to report any type of behavior, situations or circumstances in which they learn about a student being involved in a harmful or dangerous situation.
- Employees should report the information immediately to the Title IX Coordinator and or Campus Police (if there is an immediate threat).
- Thank the student for sharing this information with you.
- Let them know (as early in the conversation as you can) about your obligations to report. For example: “Thank you so much for meeting with me and for opening up to me, but before you continue with your story, I want to let you know that if you disclose anything to me regarding harm to yourself or others I will need to share that information with others at the college so that we can connect you with the best resources possible. I can also let you know about confidential resources on and off campus if you prefer. I just want to make sure you understand the processes of sharing this information with me. Do you have any questions?”
- Be empathetic. Listen. Ask what they need. Ask what you can do to help.
- Do not ask “why” questions, or feel the need to question the student in pursuit of finding out “why” this happened.
- Do not state what you would do or what you feel they should do.
- Ask if you can make a suggestion(s) about resources/referrals that might be of interest to the student.
Helpful phrases when responding to trauma:
- You seem upset. Would you like to talk about it?
- It sounds like you’re going through a difficult time. How can I help?
- I’m sorry to hear about ____________. How are you doing?
- What do you think you need to get through this?
- Here are some on campus supports that might be helpful…
Resources to refer students to:
- The Health and Wellness Center’s website contains a Resource Guide for Survivors of Sexual Violence, which offers a variety of services both on and off campus. Printing a copy of it and having it ready in your office may be helpful to either refer to when meeting with the student or to give the student as a resource.
- Some on campus services that may be helpful for students include; Counseling Services and the SHARE Advisor program (x1331); Health Services (x1307); Academic Services (x1306) or Residence Life (x1290).
- An off campus service also included in the online guide include is A New Day, a local rape crisis center, 508-588-8255, a confidential resource.
Who to call:
- If you have general questions about gender based violence, sexual assault, dating violence, etc. call the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at 508-565-1363 or the Office of Community Standards at 508-565-1323 for more information.
- If you suspect a student has been a victim of sexual abuse, dating abuse or gender based violence call the Title IX Coordinator (x1105) or the Title IX Deputy (1323).
- A report can also be made to Campus Police at 508-565-5555 or online at http://www.stonehill.edu/offices-services/health-wellness/share-sexual-harassment-assaul/sexual-assault-incident-report/.
For more information, contact the Health and Wellness Center Roche Dining Commons, Room 101, 508-565-1544, firstname.lastname@example.org.