Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress
Under limited circumstances, some students may experience post-traumatic stress as a result of a traumatic event. Post-traumatic stress is a condition which is precipitated by an event beyond the range of typical experience. A student who has, for example, suffered repeated losses in their life may experience post-traumatic stress upon the death of a friend. Also, students may experience post-traumatic stress if a catastrophe has occurred at school (i.e., shooting of teacher or students, natural disasters, etc.) Symptoms of post-traumatic stress include:
- Re-experiencing the traumatic event.
- Avoidance of stimuli the person associates with the traumatic event.
- Numbing of general responsiveness.
- Pattern of distressful behavior which lasts longer than one month.
As with any severe anxiety, the helper can assist by:
- Providing a safe and supportive environment.
- Reassuring the person that the reaction is a natural occurrence to the event.
- Helping the person discharge "pent-up" pain.
Often times, counseling groups provide the most support for the individual, particularly teenagers. The ideal group size is from six-to-eight members. The group sessions should betime limited with the purpose of providing mutual support and understanding as each group member deals with their reactions to the traumatic event.