School Crisis Prevention and Intervention: The PREPaRE Model: Interview with Co-Authors Steve Brock, Melissa Reeves, Amanda Nickerson, and Ted Feinberg
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Dan Florell: Welcome to another NASP podcast. Today's topic is going to be on crisis preparation and the PREPaRE curriculum. I'm your moderator, Dan Florell, the NASP webmaster, and we have four distinguished speakers with us today. The first one is Melissa. Melissa, why don't you introduce yourself?
Melissa Reeves: Yes, this is Melissa Reeves, and I'm an adjunct faculty member at Winthrop University. I'm currently the chair of the PREPaRE workgroup, and one of the authors of the PREPaRE curriculum.
Dan: Great! Amanda.
Amanda Nickerson: Hi, I'm Amanda Nickerson. I'm an associate professor of school psychology at the University of Albany in New York. I have been a member of the PREPaRE team since its inception.
Dan: OK, good! Steve.
Steve Brock: Hi, my name is Steve Brock. I'm an associate professor of school psychology at California State University at Sacramento. I'm cochair of the PREPaRE workgroup, have been a member since its inception, and I'm also a member of the National Emergency Assistance Team.
Dan: Great! And Ted?
Ted Feinberg: Hi, I'm Ted Feinberg. I was one of the founding members of the National Emergency Assistance Team and currently a member of the PREPaRE curriculum workgroup. After eight years as the assistant executive director for NASP, I am now working on select projects that advance the theme of crisis prevention and intervention around the country.
Dan: OK, good! Well, thank you all for spending a little bit of time with us and describing a little bit more about crisis response and the PREPaRE curriculum that NASP has been sponsoring and involved with. I'm just going to go ahead and ask you a series of questions, and we have various among you who have been assigned to give us the first answer. I'm going to start off with Steve. What sorts of services are considered a part of crisis response?
Steve: Well, the crisis response is a multidisciplinary activity that, theoretically, should involve pretty much all school staff members, each performing functions that are more or less specific and relevant to their traditional job titles and descriptions. The other thing that's important to keep in mind about the services provided as a part of the crisis response is that these services should occur at all phases of a crisis timeline, so to speak. That includes before, during and after the critical incident.
Before the crisis event, the multidisciplinary crisis team should be involved in crisis prevention and crisis preparedness.
During the event itself, crisis response comes into play. Here, for example, you would find school psychologists engaging in crisis intervention activities.
And finally, there are the longer‑term recovery issues that are sometimes involved, depending upon the nature and the magnitude of the incident.
Dan: OK. So, it sounds like crisis response, for people who maybe haven't looked into it as much, is much more involved than merely the incident that we see.
Steve: Correct. I think, traditionally, most people think it's the immediate mental health response ‑ the crisis intervention, so to speak. But, yeah, you're absolutely right; when it's done well, crisis response involves all school staff members and spans all phases of the crisis.
Dan: OK. Amanda, what would be the most common type of crisis response in the schools? What do most schools tend to do?
Amanda: Well, I think, piggy‑backing off of what Steve said, we talk about at least four parts of crisis response: prevention, preparedness, response, and then recovery. I think schools generally all need to respond when a crisis does occur and that often involves just managing the logistics of it, making sure that students, in some cases they may need to be accounted for, and make sure that they are physically safe, things like that, and then providing information about the situation and making referrals, if necessary. I think more and more schools are also involved in preparedness, creating crisis teams, creating crisis plans for what to do in the event of an emergency, and most schools have been doing this for quite some time, particularly for issues that they know they can anticipate: snow emergencies, as in the case in New York, things like that, I think schools are very familiar with.
I think the prevention part of it and the recovery part are the parts that have probably been more neglected. Not uniformly, but there are definite exceptions to that. But I would say that preparedness and response are the ones that schools are most familiar with.
Dan: And I was going to say that I know with incidents here, there tends to be a more reactionary kind of approach to crises, other than weather‑related incidents. We just had a huge ice storm here in Kentucky. People knew ahead of time and they were able to prevent it and react, but with some of the more unexpected sort of things I do see a lot more reaction there, even if they do have a plan. What sort of advice would you give a school psychologist who has a district that's like that?
Ted: Dan, this is Ted Feinberg. I wanted to add just an additional thought on your question to Amanda. It seems to me that one of the most common types of crisis interventions in the schools, that we have all experienced, is the traditional fire drills. When we do presentations and training, most of our folks understand the concept of fire drills. They've been having fire drills forever. One of the things that we try to help them understand is that there's a whole host of other kinds of interventions that need to be practiced and trained on, and those are increasingly occurring around schools in the country.
Dan: OK. Yeah, that's a good point. Following up, Ted, how likely is it for school psychologists to have to deal with a variety of crises, and why would they have to be the ones to deal with it?
Ted: I think if we were able to take a random sample of job descriptions of school psychologists invariably what we would see is that school psychologists spend a fair amount of their time in problem solving and problem resolution. Sometimes those are on an individual or small group basis; sometimes they constitute a large classroom issue. But clearly, when things get crazy and when we have crisis situations, I believe, and I think it's a shared belief on the part of the PREPaRE team, that school psychologists are going to be looked at as the go‑to people to help calm the troubled waters, so to speak.
So, whether you believe that your training should have included crisis preparation or not, when it happens, people are going to look to you, as the school psychologist, to lend assistance, to have ideas on things that can be done, and to help the system, the individuals and the children cope more effectively with the crisis at hand.
And the fact is that crises occur in schools every day in every school around the country. And they don't necessarily have to be the high‑profile school shooting events, but it can be a whole host of other situations that happen on a regular basis.
Dan: Right. And kind of following up with Melissa on what Ted said, why should crisis intervention really be considered a competency for school psychologists? Why couldn't, say, guidance counselors or principals be the point people for these sorts of things?
Melissa: We are one of the few educational professionals that have an expertise in both mental health and academics. And really, by virtue of our job title, school psychologist, people naturally turn to us when there are events that have a real strong emotional impact. So, just by virtue of our job title, and the various roles that we play within an educational setting, it really is a critical skill that all school psychologists need to have, and also need to be taking leadership with. But it's more than just intervention in the event. We also have specific training in helping to establish safe schools, implementing prevention programs like bully‑proofing, conflict resolution, anger management, all of those types of things that can help prevent a potential crisis from occurring in the first place, or at least help establish a safe school climate, where all students have the opportunity to be able to focus on learning and have quality instruction and good academic achievement.
One of the slogans that we tend to use is that "in the event intervention is prevention." And if there is a dramatic event or some sort of crisis event that does occur by having quality intervention that are led by school psychologists, in addition to them also teaming with a multidisciplinary team within the school.
To deliver quality interventions, you then can litigate the negative impact, the negative effects that that event has which then leads to prevention of future events in addition to building student resiliency. And what we know is that the negative effect of the traumatic event impacts the academic achievement. Negatively impacts academic achievement.
But what we also know is students that have good resiliency variables or strong support systems also have higher academic achievement. And school psychologists can really take the lead in assuring that all of those things are part of accomplishing a safe school plan.
Steve: This is Steve. I would like to go back to something that was brought up earlier about counselors and administrators taking the lead. Everything that Melissa said was true but I think it's important to acknowledge that, given the right training, there really is no reason why a counselor or administrator couldn't take the lead. In fact, I would like to think that school psychologists can perform their discreet responsibilities on a school crisis team. That when they are surrounded by a team of individuals, including the counselor and the administrator, and a core group of teachers and the classified staff, each of whom have real clear rules and responsibilities that they know they are to engage in during a crisis event and be with. Really allow, really free school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers to focus on the mental health issues where I think we have real special expertise.
Dan: And so kind of rather than the kind of lone ranger, you're an expert in it and everybody else is just fine. That's your gig. You do it rather than having that team with the assigned role that's going to make for a much smoother path to whatever crisis is going on.
Melissa: Yeah the multidisciplinary team is real critical.
Steve: Getting back to something Ted was saying first. Ted's right. I think a lot of time school psychologists are looked to as the go‑to people, I think, were your words, Ted. And that's very true. And it creates opportunities and challenges ‑‑ opportunities in that we have I think a lot of potential for us to create some system‑wide changes there. The challenge is to the extent we are the only group that's looked to in these situations. It creates, obviously, competing demands on our time and really doesn't allow us to focus on that mental health.
Ted: Dan, one of the things that I think is important to note is that in viewing the trainings that related to PREPaRE. Around the country we're finding there's an interest on the part of teachers and administrators and school personnel and bus drivers to understand and be a part of the PREPaRE training. Because all of the folks, to kind of highlight what Steve said, all of these folks are critically important in a natural crisis event.
And so to the extent that we can broaden our base of folks who are familiar with and trained in the PREPaRE model it makes everyone's job conceivably easier and more fluent.
Dan: Well, in listening to all of you, it really sounds like the ownership factor is something to consider. Maybe kind of like RTI if you saw a lot of RTI in the schools, school psychologists will kind of out front with the initial beginning. But I know here at least in our state of Kentucky that a lot of the regular education folks are now starting to take a lot more ownership in the role of the school psychologists is allowed to go back and be a little more specialized in offering intensive services and not so much two to one.
It kind of sounds like with crisis intervention if we can get the school psychologists out making the school aware and have people get trained in the other various professions that are in the schools then we can like Steve was talking about get back to kind of a more mental health focus where we really have impart training in our strength.
Does that sound pretty close? Good. Well since we have kind of established the important role of the school psychologists in crisis response.
Amanda, what are some basic checklist things that school psychologist can do to start preparing for if a crisis occurs?
Amanda: Well I think I just have to reemphasize that this question what we've been saying about the school psychologist being part of a multidisciplinary team. So I feel that these checklists would come from the multidisciplinary team that is created a comprehensive crisis plan. So thinking through how to prepare for crisis situations and how to respond including what the role the school psychologist would be in that. So it wouldn't be something that a school psychologist could in isolation just have a checklist.
In my opinion a lot of it would be a part of the broader whole. But in terms of the specific things that a school psychologists should kind of have on hand to make things easier I think one thing would be information.
Sort of a template of what is a crisis, what kind of typical reaction can you expect from students according to developmental level when a crisis occurs.
How can caregivers, parents, teachers' best help those children in those times. What are signs to look for that could be of concern and then what to do about it?
How can they get appropriate help, get referrals? Although you would want to have that specific for different situations there are some basic information that I think every school psychologist should have.
Kind of a template made up that they could us to apply, to really serve to educate students, parents, and teachers when something happens.
I think in PREPaRE we've actually created quite a number of checklists for the different phases of crisis prevention and response.
One that participant says that has been really helpful is kind of identifying who have we flagged to be at risk for needing certain sources services.
And how are those services then provided so if there is turn over you have multiple people involved right after a crisis event. It's a way to kind of organize and keep track that we've flagged some kids. What has been done? What do we still need to do?
So some of those kinds of lists I think may make the life of the school psychologist easier. Of course, other members of the crisis team will have other kinds of lists as determined by each event.
Ted: Crises are, by definition, unnerving and chaotic and there are some basic truths that we want to help school systems appreciate and be sensitive to. It was mentioned earlier if kids do not feel safe their capacity to do well in academics is going to be diminished. If kid's emotional and mental health is compromised even temporarily their academic performance is going to be impacted as well.
So we have to help schools understand that although their mission is to educate children to the best of their ability. When crisis events take place there are things that need to be done first and foremost to allow them to get back into the learning routine in an effective manner.
Dan: Good. And you all have mentioned the PREPaRE curriculum for NASP and NASP has sponsored kind of this crisis prevention training called PREPaRE. Steve, could you give us a general over view of what the training consists of?
Steve: Sure. The NASP PREPaRE curriculum includes four separate workshops. There is Workshop 1, which reviews crisis prevention and preparedness. There is Workshop 2, Crisis Intervention and Recovery. And the other two workshops are training of trainers for those two workshops. After having attended Workshop one and or 2, participants are then eligible to complete a training of trainer course. And after having done so, they can then deliver the NASP PREPaRE curriculum.
What else can I tell you? Workshop 1, again, focuses on crisis prevention and preparedness. It's a one‑day workshop, and it is actually appropriate for pretty much anybody working in a school setting.
When we developed Workshop 1, we did it with reality in mind, that, for a school psychologist to function effectively, as we did discuss earlier, to really focus on the mental health piece, they need to be surrounded by the multidisciplinary teams. So one of the important reasons to the development of workshop one was to make sure people had a way to get a sense of the big picture, so to speak.
And that will be the crisis preparedness kind of aspect. It also does a reasonably good job of ‑ actually a pretty good job ‑ of talking about crisis prevention. I would like to get back to Workshop two in just a second, which I was the primary author of. But Amanda and Melissa were the primary authors of Workshop 1. So I would like to give them a chance to chime in here and see if they have anything they want to add about that one day workshop appropriate for pretty much any school staff member.
Dan: OK. Amanda or Melissa?
Melissa: The workshop, as Steve mentioned, really does focus more on what we call those systems levels and cues. So it covers establishing a safe schools climate ‑ violent scenes, physical safety with physiological safety ‑ really utilizing a multi disciplinary team with the school physiologist being one member of that multi disciplinary team. It also integrates with the principles and practices outlined in the US Department of Ed's [education], the US Department of Homeland Security, their NIMS ‑ The National Incident Management System. And then, as part of the NIMS system, is the whole incident command structure which is a way that you structure your school crisis team or your district crisis team so it is in alignment with other community agencies response teams that are out there.
So, we have that consistent communication of basically utilizing some of the same principles and speaking the same language, say for example, as the local police department, fire department and other rescue agencies that schools maybe collaborating with, and then, in addition, to really focusing on establishing a team according with those guidelines.
Then, we also speak about how to establish an effective crisis plan and also how do we evaluate what we have done. And Amanda, I don't know if you have other things that you want to add?
Amanda: I think that was pretty comprehensive.
Steve: OK. Well then, let me get back to Workshop 2. One important thing I think for practitioners to keep in mind, is that, if you are getting a team going, and or, you just want to see what the whole comprehensive school crisis team should look like, Workshop one is absolutely something that you should include in your training program. However, if you already have an established team, then, you really just want to focus on the mental health piece. In other words, a group of psychologist who want to work with their allied school based mental health professionals in developing that specific aspect of the comprehensive multidisciplinary school crisis team, then Workshop two could come in real handy. Workshop two is a two‑day training session. Unlike Workshop 1, which can accommodate up to a 100 people, Workshop two is limited to 40 people for two trainers. I guess if you included a third trainer, you could increase the size of the group. But typically there are two trainers and no more than 40 participants.
In Workshop 1, what we do is ‑ this is where the PREPaRE acronym is really clearly laid out ‑ we talk about preventing and preparing for psychological trauma there. Then we examine different strategies for reaffirming psychical health and insuring perceptions of safety and security, so reaffirming is the 'r' of Prepare.
The key point here is that really ‑ and this is real important message for mental health professionals to hear ‑ before we can begin to do our mental health piece, the acute days of the disaster, the crisis, whatever, must have resolved itself. And until that point in time where the danger is passed, so to speak, our mental health activities really need to take a back seat. So, we do spend some time talking about what we can do and what we should be doing to reaffirm physical health as well as perceptions of safety and security.
And really, before any kind of mental health recovery can begin, not only must students be safe, they must believe that they are safe. The 'e'....
Ted: Can I just talk for just one thought connected to that point? I think this is a critically important issue for schools and folks who work in schools to understand. Because, sometimes, there is a misperception as to what school psychologists and other mental health professionals in the schools can and should be doing. And I think this particular point that Steve has just mentioned is a very essential idea that schools and school people need to understand so that we are not delivering services before children and staff are ready to receive those services. And that maybe a little different than what has gone on historically.
Steve: And another critical point, towards the top of the list of what I think are key messages from Workshop two as the PREPaRE curriculum, is the first 'e' in PREPaRE, the PREPaRE acronym, which stands for evaluate. A key principle of our training curriculum is that before providing crisis intervention services, mental health response ‑ in others words a crisis or death ‑ there needs to be some sort of evaluation of the degree to which students, staff and potentially community members were affected by the crisis. The idea here is that when it comes to crisis interventions one size does not fit all. Some people will need real intensive interventions and, obviously, they need a lot of our attention. Conversely, other individuals will need very little, if any, direct crisis intervention support. And we need to make sure that we aren't overly intrusive with those individuals and give them a chance to work through issues, more or less on their own or with the assistance of mom and dad, teacher and friends.
The next element of the PREPaRE acronym is PaR, and that's stands for "provide and respond." Provide interventions and respond to physio, psychological needs. This is pretty much the entire second day of the workshop. And here's where we are talking about some of the specific crisis interventions that school psychologists and other allied school based mental health professionals should be prepared to offer following a crisis event.
They include, interestingly enough, simply re‑establishing naturally occurring social supports, which is not a direct crisis intervention to say. Rather it involves making sure mom's and dad's, teachers and friends are acceptable to provide the support that by and large is going to help most students affectively cope with the critical incident.
Now, while mom's and dad's, teachers and friends are adequate for most, obviously, some students are going to need more involved, more direct crisis interventions. And that's where we start to talk about psycho education in groups, group psychological first aid as well as individual psychological first aid intervention.
Finally, while it's clearly not a focus of our training curriculum, we do spend some time talking briefly about psycho therapeutic interventions. Our goal here is twofold. First, to acknowledge that the immediate crisis intervention and response, while, able to meet the needs of most students pretty effectively, on depending upon the nature of the stress, there may be a rather substantial minority of students who have longer term mental health treatment needs.
And here what we're advocating for is that the school‑based mental health people be knowledgeable of the appropriate psychotherapeutic treatments in order to make appropriate referrals.
We advertise our workshop, or our training curriculum that's actually facilitating the development of that particular skill set.
The last letter of the PREPaRE acronym, the second 'E', stands for Examine. And, in this part of the workshop as we sort of wrap things up we talk about strategy that school crisis teams can employ to examine the effectiveness of their crisis prevention and intervention efforts.
So in a nutshell, that's what Workshop two is all about.
Dan: OK. And then the Workshops three and 4, you said, are more of Training of the Trainers?
Steve: Yeah. In Workshops three and 4, they're both TOT workshops. There's a TOT for Workshop one and for Workshop 2. The TOT for Workshop 1, isn't that about four hours, Amanda?
Amanda: Four and a half.
Steve: Four and a half hours. And, it's two days and we do both workshops at once. The remaining seven and a half hours or so will be Workshop 2. And in that, basically we're now talking to participants who are perspective trainers. We're not re‑giving the workshop, we're simply talking about some of the presentation issues that come up as you present certain tasks. There are a lot of activities involved in both workshops which, as a facilitator, can be kind of challenging. So, we like to make sure we give them a chance to talk about that, and actually to practice presenting in front of the workshop.
Following completion of that again, a participant, following completion of a TOT, is eligible to present the NASP PREPaRE workshop pretty much on their own whenever they want to.
Dan: So, for the average practitioner who, say, wasn't going to be a trainer, it's really a two‑day training.
Steve: Well, it's a three‑day training. It's Workshop one is one day, Workshop two is a two‑day. And, what I was suggesting earlier is you could do one, the other, or both, depending upon your needs. What I suggested earlier was that if you have a well established crisis team, it's well functioning employees, and then models multidisciplinary best of school district or agency simply wants to further developed their mental health response capacity, then all they would need is a two‑day Workshop 2.
However, if you're just getting started and you don't have a well‑established team or a team that maybe isn't employing the NASP model, isn't functioning as well as you would like, not as multidisciplinary as you would like, then you may just want to do Workshop one before you get into providing more narrowly focused crisis intervention training provided by the two‑day Workshop 2.
Amanda: And, Steve, I'd like to say the workshops are separate yet complementary.
Ted: One of things that I'm particularly proud of with this project is that it is developed by experienced school psychologists for use in the schools by school personnel. And although I may be wrong, it may be the only true crisis prevention and intervention program designed to specifically address the needs of children, teens, and members of the school community. And I think, as was mentioned earlier, it incorporates many of the standards, whether it's Homeland Security or NIMS or the U.S. Department of Education, the practices and principles that they believe are in the best interest of kids. And so I think, from my school psychologist's perspective, this was a wonderful project to be done and sponsored by school psychologists.
Dan: Well, since you kind of brought it up, Ted, how was the PREPaRE curriculum kind of developed and how does it relate to the upcoming book that you have coming out through NASP?
Ted: Well, I think Steve did a good job of outlining the PREPaRE curriculum in terms of Workshop one and Workshop two and the Train the Trainers options. All along from the very beginning we felt that one of the gaps that has existed in our training programs was the fact that many training programs either spent very little time addressing crisis prevention and intervention for graduate students or no time at all.
And, one of the things that we're hopeful with regards to the book is the book really has another level of resource to universities, to graduate students, to others who really may not be able to find time to take the training but are certainly interested in the topic. And certainly graduate students, from my experience, are very, very interested in the area of crisis prevention and intervention.
And, we're hopeful that the book will give them information and resources that will encourage them to take the formal training and really become much more aware of the issues that we have started to mention during this podcast.
But, let my colleagues jump in here if there any other elements as to why the book was put together.
Steve: Yes, Ted, I would like to add that there is an emerging body of research addressing how to respond to individuals who have experienced classic events, how to prepare for them, and how to help them recover. And, I think the three days of PREPaRE training is all based, to the greatest extent possible, on a real careful and thorough review of the available interracial literature. And, one of the things we try to do in the book is to allow an individual greater access to that literature in a more clearly and explicitly spelled out, OK, here's what we're doing in the PREPaRE curriculum and here's why. In other words, here's the interracial basis for the specific crisis intervention recommendations, for example, that we offer in Workshop 2.
Dan: So, it's kind of almost like somebody who is in a class with the workshops and, of course, you never quite get every little nuance part or some parts get passed over because of, you know, questions or something. And then you can get back to this book, it sounds like, and really be able to dig down and maybe even have some of the concepts a little further expanded on when you might need them.
Steve: Yeah, exactly. And you know, in the two‑day workshop you don't want to get into a lot of nitty gritty research details and all of these studies. We do provide the reference list in the workshop but time just doesn't permit us to get into some of the detail regarding the peer support recommendations that the book does.
Amanda: I was just going to say that some areas that we feel like in the workshop we weren't able to pay adequate attention to, like prevention. You know, we certainly have more of an emphasis on that in the curriculum than most other crisis types of trainings, but we can get into much more detail about that in the book, in addition to suicide and threat assessment and things that participants often ask us about. But, we're not able to go into that detail. Those kinds of things are provided in the book.
Dan: Well, good. It sounds like a really valuable resource, something that's very applied, which I think a lot of practitioners are looking for. And then, also something that if people want to get some hands on and maybe even more ways of discussing with people, they can attend one of trainings that's either offered by one of you or NASP sponsored, or even through people who have gone through the trainings program. And so, it sounds like just a very valuable resource for everyone.
Melissa, I realized I actually skipped a little question I was going to ask you. And that is, after let's say a school psychologist gets very motivated and they decided to go to the trainings, and they did the Trainer of the Trainer and they read the excellent book and have it on their shelf, and they find that their administrators still don't really recognize the importance of crisis response.
How would you, well, what would you recommend school psychologists to do to encourage their district administrators to kind of prepare for school crisis and maybe get trained themselves to some degree?
Melissa: You know, whether it's a district level administrator or a school level administrator, I think one of the key pieces that school psychologists need to do is really to advocate for themselves in regards to bringing awareness to those administrators as to the level of training that they have in this particular area, and the specific content of the training that they have received. Also, in general, their willingness to really expand their role as a school psychologist and work collaboratively with the administrators in regards to not only being prepared for if a crisis event would occur, but again, going back to the whole prevention, planning, preparedness, establishing a safe school, and so forth. What I have often found in doing these trainings...
Actually, one of the number one questions that I often get from school psychologists and other school based mental health professionals is: how do we get ourselves at the table and with administrators? And I can't underscore the importance of just that collaborative working relationship and that dialogue with administrators to bring to their attention that crisis intervention and response really starts at prevention and goes all the way through recovery.
With administrators having so many responsibilities on their plates these days, if the school psychologist can really help them with some of those responsibilities and really form that team partnership and help form that multidisciplinary team, that can really take a lot of that workload off the administrators.
Dan: Yes. And one of the things that I've always thought is that one of your best ways of advocating for a better role or bigger role is to assist a principal or administrator when a crisis does occur, and it is like a light is being shone upon them as far as: Oh, you mean there is somebody who can give me some backup in an area that I don't feel too comfortable in. Is that something that you found with your experience and training?
Melissa: Absolutely! And what I often see is that it's not so much that the administrators don't want the school psychologist's help, they're not even aware that they have the skills to help them, and through that awareness they usually are more than willing to accept that help when something happens, in addition to really accepting that help in the whole planning and preparation stages.
Dan: OK. Well, good. I think that's something that as school psychologists we often are shy to speak up regarding some of our particular skills, but this one especially, would seem to be an opportunity to really express them and go for that role expansion that you mentioned earlier.
Melissa: Yes. In the book and also in the training we do cover that whole research about mental health and the link to academic achievement. And that can be another very important avenue that really gets administrators listening: when you can make the link for doing all of this and the importance that it does have on student academic achievement.
Dan: Yes, I would imagine, especially with the accountability issues that are everywhere these days, that also would have a particular appeal in trying to get the school back into its regular routine where students are learning in a more optimal environment. And anything we can do to smooth over those bumps in the road, such as these crises, usually catches their attention.
Dan: This is kind of to everybody: is there any one little nugget or couple of nuggets that you've taken away from being involved with PREPaRE, or things that you've noticed? You've mentioned in many of your answers about common questions that come up from the audience or issues. Is there anything that we haven't necessarily covered that you think, from your training experience, would be worth mentioning?
Ted: I think that the topic that resonates with everyone who works in schools is: what would we do when these events happen in other communities? It has a ripple effect. I can recall that when the shooting in Springfield, Oregon took place, I had calls to my office in New York, working in a high school, from parents who were concerned as to whether this type of situation could happen in our school district. The fact of the matter is, regardless of where these events take place, they have a human element and they touch our hearts and souls deeply.
And so, I think we have advanced, to a greater degree, an awareness on the part of school systems that their mission to educate children encompasses not just reading, writing and arithmetic, but skills and supports of the nature that we have been describing. And I think school psychologists can do a good job of social marketing this concept, and in the process they can work towards expanding their role and the value of their role in the schools that they service.
Melissa: And I think that the other key piece that we've learned is that a lot of people walk away saying, "Oh, my gosh! This is so overwhelming. There are so many things that I've realized that we haven't done that we need to do." And as I always say, start with a couple key things, short‑term goals, to try to address in the short term, and not to be overwhelmed with the bigger picture. But also never underestimate the difference that one individual can make, especially if you're kind of starting at the ground level and trying to build this from scratch, either within your school or within your district. Find a couple of colleagues that have the same passion that you have. And it is a marathon, it's not a sprint, but never underestimate the change that a small group of individuals can have, because that's where so much of this has taken place. It has started with an individual or a small group of individuals, and they have been able to really get an entire district on board to really integrate a lot of the principles that we talk about in the PREPaRE curriculum.
Amanda: I agree with Melissa. I think oftentimes people, especially after workshop one, I would say, can get very overwhelmed with all of the things that go into really preparing and planning well. I've had a little bit different experience, too, with some folks, particularly with regard to workshop two, I would say, that have been committed to this and have been doing crisis response, but sort of learning as they go and doing what seemed right to them, and they've actually expressed some relief after coming out of the curriculum, saying, "Wow! I feel like this validated a lot of what we're already doing, but it provided a greater context and some justification, and it'll take us to the next level, because we hadn't considered these things."
So, I think I've gotten those two different reactions. The one that Melissa said, with the "overwhelming," and helping people one step at a time; and then the other: whew, what I've been doing hasn't been all wrong, but this is validating and it's going to push me to the next level.
Steve: I would say the same thing. This is Steve, tagging on to what Amanda just said about workshop two. I think a lot of times our primary reaction from our participants is relief, and in addition to the reasons Amanda just suggested ‑ which is essentially is, boy, we were doing it right ‑ a key message is that a lot of what is involved in recovering from exposure to a crisis event involves making use of naturally occurring social support systems. In other words, the school psychologist isn't expected to meet individually or even in a group, with all students. Many times students can have their needs met with Moms and Dads and teachers and friends. And I find that to be a message that participants really appreciate when they hear it. It kind of frames exactly what is it that I'm supposed to be doing?
Dan: Right. You're giving them empowerment, it sounds like, and then, knowing that most people, given their resources, their social supports, aren't going to necessarily need you other than maybe to have you remind them of those supports already.
Steve: Exactly. Exactly.
Dan: OK. Well, good. I want to thank you all for participating. And the PREPaRE curriculum: I've looked at it and thought that it was really marvelously put together and provided real good resource for people who are interested in the crisis intervention, but haven't really been trained at all, and then others who have been doing it for a while, but kind of giving a whole system approach rather than just bits and pieces they've picked up and integrated along the way, and it sounds like they have been able to get that validation from having gone through the training.
If you can't make a training, then it sounds like the book is going to be a very good adjunct to that, and even more because it provides a lot of the resources and maybe a little more detail than the trainings are able to provide.
Thanks, again, and this concludes the NASP podcast on the PREPaRE curriculum. Thanks!