By Senior Research Associate Pamela Fong. Pamela is a regular contributor to blogs about timely issues and the change-oriented work of Regional Educational Laboratory West (REL West) research-practice partnerships for the Institute of Education Sciences. This post first appeared on the REL West blog and is posted here with permission.

Over the past several months, Regional Educational Laboratory West (REL West) staff have been in discussions with education policymakers, administrators, and practitioners throughout Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and California to address pressing problems of practice in the field. The ultimate goals of the work with our partners range from reducing students’ chronic absence rates to improving student math performance. However, in addition to these goals, most partners express a need for resources to help students deal with trauma and build resilience, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to this need, REL West assembled a free video collection “Addressing Trauma and Fostering Resilience,” where experts on trauma and youth provide actionable strategies on building positive relationships and resilience with youth, responding to youth suicide, understanding youth behaviors, and employing trauma-informed practices. The videos are excerpts from past events REL West hosted to support our regional partners. Educators, health and mental health practitioners, and others can learn about evidence-based practices from 13 videos in this collection, including 6 short videos and 2 sets of webinars with the option to view as a set or selectively. Additionally, a recording of an in-person event showcases a practitioner panel of student services staff and counselors discussing trauma-informed practices employed in their districts and schools.

Educators and other adults who work with youth are aware of increasing occurrence of trauma and its impact, and they need accessible, easy-to-find resources to help understand how to recognize trauma and how to respond with trauma-informed care.

Actionable Evidence-Based Strategies to Foster Student Resilience and Address Trauma

Explore all 13 videos about addressing trauma and fostering resilience in the REL West video playlist. Read on to see how 6 short videos are organized into two themes: 1) Fostering Student Resilience and 2) Addressing Trauma. Videos and accompanying resources for reflection and discussion are linked in this blog.

Short Videos: Fostering Student Resilience

Six Strategies to Promote Student Resilience (8:50)
Dr. Flojaune Cofer, Senior Director of Policy at Public Health Advocates, begins with the challenge that educators and practitioners reframe their mindsets about perceived negative behavior and intent of students and their families to assume positive intent. Cofer describes six actionable strategies in key areas that adults can use to build positive relationships with and resilience in youth: health, vision, collaboration, tenacity, composure, and reasoning.

Postvention is Prevention: Considerations for Responding to Youth Suicide (10:59)
Stan Collins, an expert in suicide prevention, introduces a set of practical and evidence-based postvention strategies, or strategies that schools can adopt with youth and young adults that reduce risk and promote healing after a suicide as a form of prevention. Collins underscores the importance of schools establishing a plan before it is needed.

Short Videos: Addressing Trauma

Trauma-Informed Strategies for Building Relationships with Students (7:05)
Dr. Sam Himelstein, a researcher, psychotherapist, and youth advocate with Family Spring, emphasizes that authentic relationships are the foundation for trauma-informed care and that healing from trauma is possible by developing effective relationship-building skills with intention and practice. Himelstein shares four research-based skills for building relationships with children and youth that promote healing from trauma: attunement, authenticity, deep listening, and skillful self-disclosure.

  • Overview and Reflection Guide. A 2-page resource for professional learning that includes excerpts from the video and a set of questions to guide reflection and discussion.

Now You See Us: Youth Helping Adults to Better Understand Youth Behavior (6:02)
Two members of the California School-Based Health Alliance Youth Board, Irma Rosa Viera and Miche’le Bailey, facilitated a workshop at a convening on trauma, mental health, and resilience. In this video, the two youth facilitators present information to educators, health care providers, and other providers about ways that adults can better provide youth with the mental health care that youth need, primarily by listening to youth voices and valuing their lived experiences to strengthen change efforts.

Trauma-Informed Approaches (10:33)
Dr. Martha Merchant, or Doc Martha, is a clinical psychologist at Healthy Environments and Response to Trauma in Schools (HEARTS) at the University of California San Francisco and a leading expert on trauma and youth, who speaks about what the impacts of trauma and stress look like in classrooms. Doc Martha identifies ways for adults to recognize triggers, strategies to deescalate for students, and trauma-informed approaches to creating safe and supportive school environments for students and adults.

Voices from the Field: The Importance of Trauma-Informed Practices (6:32)
Two leading experts on trauma, resilience and mental health, Dr. Leora Wolf-Prusan, currently, Director of Partnerships and Learning at Center for Applied Research Solutions, and Dr. Martha Merchant, a clinical psychologist at the University of California San Francisco, discuss why trauma-informed practices are important for all students and adults—not just those who have trauma—and how trauma-informed practices strengthen systems and culture of schools and youth-serving organizations.

In addition to viewing these six videos in the Addressing Trauma and Fostering Student Resilience collection, we invite you to explore the other video resources in the playlist, including webinars and a practitioner panel discussion on trauma-informed practices.

As REL West continues to create new videos that present user-friendly and research-based content to educators and providers who support students, please continue visiting the IES YouTube channel as a trustworthy source for new and innovative approaches to improving education.