Interventions and Trainings

IERS staff members are trained educators, counselors, and psychologists who work closely with community agencies, schools, administrative personnel, tribal programs, clinicians, technicians, and families to identify their needs and the needs of the community in addressing school safety and child traumatic stress. Below is a list of some of the interventions and trainings we offer, along with a short description of each. To register for an upcoming training, please visit our Training Registration page. If you are interested in having IERS offer trainings or consultation in your school, agency, or community, please contact Associate Director Leona Hastings.

Trauma-Informed Trainings:

Trauma-Informed Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (TI-PBIS):

Trauma-Informed Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (TI-PBIS) is a comprehensive systems approach to behavior management designed to promote the development of social, emotional, and behavioral skills (Solomon, Klein, Hintze, Cressey, & Peller, 2012). Since 2007, IERS' National Native Children’s Trauma Center and Montana Safe Schools Center have successfully incorporated information on trauma into PBIS trainings and used this adapted form of PBIS in educational settings. Sugai et al. (2000) report that PBIS produces improvements in school climate and reductions in misbehavior, office discipline referrals (ODRs), and restraint and seclusion (“time out rooms”). TI-PBIS strategies link to other formalized IERS trainings and interventions, including:

  • Universal strategies (e.g., clear expectations, teaching social skills to all, self-care)
  • Targeted strategies (e.g., mentorship, Check-in/Check-out, CBITS)
  • Individualized strategies (e.g., individual behavior plans) (back to top)

Cognitive Behavioral Interventions for Trauma in Schools (CBITS):

Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS), based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is an evidence-based group treatment program for middle and high school students (Jaycox, 2004). In randomized controlled studies, children in CBITS intervention groups have shown significant reductions in symptoms of PTSD and depression (Stein, et al., 2003). In addition to increasing schools’ ability to serve traumatized children in the school setting, CBITS increases youth participation and positive interaction with peers and staff. IERS’ NNCTC staff have replicated CBITS with American Indian and Alaska Native youth and found similarly positive results (Morsette et al., 2009; Morsette et al., 2012). In addition, NNCTC staff have provided training in the CBITS model and provided implementation assistance in numerous reservation settings across the U.S.

The primary target audience for CBITS training is school counselors, though implementation requires buy-in from school administrators and teaching staff. Counselors are trained how to screen students and run therapy groups that include 10 1-hour group sessions and 1 to 3 individual sessions.

Specific elements of CBITS group sessions include:

  • Defining trauma and traumatic stress
  • Impacts of trauma/childhood traumatic stress symptoms
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Linking thoughts and feelings
  • Challenging negative/maladaptive thinking
  • Reducing anxiety and impulsivity
  • Increasing self-efficacy
  • Monitoring feelings
  • Understanding avoidance
  • Facing anxiety/fears
  • Techniques for thought-stopping, distractions, relaxation

Specific elements of CBITS individual sessions include:

  • Imaginal exposure to reduce anxiety
  • Individual treatment planning
  • Re-telling trauma story with feelings identification
  • Safety planning for group sharing
  • Decreasing anxiety while thinking about trauma
  • Decreasing avoidance
  • Increasing peer support
  • Processing traumatic event(s)
  • Linking negative thoughts and behaviors
  • Improving decision-making skills
  • Parent and educator components (back to top)

Students, Trauma, and Resilience (STAR):

The Students Trauma and Resiliency (STAR) intervention, modeled on CBITS, similarly provides students with the tools to mitigate the effects of exposure to potentially traumatic events and traumatizing loss, but it is designed to reach a general population of middle school and high school students in a classroom setting. STAR uses a psychoeducational approach consisting of four lesson plans, each of which can be completed within the traditional class period length of 50-60 minutes. These lessons are meant to be delivered once a week for a month, a time frame that allows for practice and absorption of the material between lessons. Although smaller class sizes such as 15 to 20 are optimal, STAR can be implemented in classes up to 30 students.

Components of the STAR curriculum include:

  • Education about common reactions to stress, trauma, and loss
  • Relaxation training
  • Identification of healthy coping strategies
  • Linkage between feelings, thoughts, and behaviors
  • Challenging thinking errors
  • Facing anxiety
  • Building resources
  • Social problem-solving (back to top)

Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) and Self-Care:

Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS), along with similar terms including Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue, refers to the PTSD-like symptoms experienced by those who work with traumatized people as part of their daily jobs (such as first responders, therapists, teachers, or child welfare workers). Our centers have been involved in leading research in the area of Vicarious Trauma as it relates to helpers treating clients with complex trauma (Pearlman and Caringi, 2009) as well as research documenting the significant STS impacts experienced by individuals working in schools (Borntrager, Caringi, van den Pol, et al., 2012). IERS staff members have also been centrally involved in the ongoing evolution of secondary trauma work within the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, in the field of child welfare, and with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students (US ED OSHS). In addition to assisting in the creation and national dissemination of an onsite, full-day school-based STS training for US ED OSHS, we have created a first-of-its-kind curriculum for understanding, identifying, and mitigating STS among child welfare workers in Indian Country. 

Examples of customized training content delivered by NNCTC and MSSC include:

  • Defining secondary traumatic stress, vicarious trauma, burnout, and compassion fatigue
  • Secondary Traumatic Stress signs and symptoms
  • Self-care strategies at the personal, professional, and organizational levels
  • Creating self-care plans with small groups of staff (back to top)

Think Trauma! Training for Juvenile Justice:

Think Trauma Training for Juvenile Justice is a 4-6 module, evidence-informed training created by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network with contributions from the National Native Children’s Trauma Center. The training supports juvenile justice staff as they move toward the creation of a trauma-informed juvenile justice system, a process requiring not only knowledge acquisition and behavioral modification but also cultural and organizational paradigm shifts and, in some cases, policy and procedural change at every level of the system (NCTSN, 2014). (back to top)

Child Welfare Trauma Training Toolkit:

The Child Welfare Trauma Training Toolkit (2nd Edition), developed by the Child Welfare Committee of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, is designed to teach basic knowledge, skills, and values for working with children who are in the child welfare system, many of whom have experienced traumatic events. The toolkit teaches strategies for using trauma-informed child welfare practice to enhance the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families who are involved in the child welfare system. IERS’ NNCTC staff members provide training in the toolkit to child protection teams, juvenile justice officials, social workers, counselors, and child welfare agency administrators and staff. (back to top)

Attachment, Self-Regulation and Competency (ARC):

Attachment, Self-Regulation, & Competency (ARC) is a framework for intervening with children and families who have experienced chronic/complex trauma. Research indicates that ARC leads to a reduction in symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety, while caregivers report reduced stress and view their children’s behavior as less dysfunctional (Blaustein & Kinniburgh, 2010). At a systems level, ARC implementation also changes caregiver and organization/agency understanding of and orientation to trauma-induced child behaviors to increase outcomes of safety, permanency, and well-being.

IERS ARC trainings related to working with trauma in the classroom include learning modules involving:

  • Regulating your own emotions when dealing with challenging behavior
  • Steps to become more attuned with student emotion and behavior
  • Strategies to help students identify emotions
  • Strategies to calm students who are hyperaroused
  • Steps to help students modulate and express emotion
  • Strategies to help students improve executive functioning
  • Activities to increase self-identity (back to top)

Suicide Prevention Trainings and Interventions:

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST):

ASIST is one of the most widely utilized research-based suicide prevention training models in the world. IERS trainers teach school and agency staff members, older students, and community members to identify a person at risk for suicide, to intervene effectively, and to connect that person to resources. Those who participate in the two-day, practice-based ASIST training will be able to:

  • Understand how personal and societal attitudes affect suicide risk and intervention
  • Identify risk and develop safety plans
  • Conduct an open discussion with a person at risk of suicide
  • Intervene with a person at risk of suicide
  • Connect a person at risk of suicide with available resources
  • Contribute to improving community resources for suicide prevention

Suicide Alertness for Everyone (safeTALK):

safeTALK is an effective and time efficient 3-4 hour training designed to prepare helpers to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first-aid resources. Anyone age 15 and up who might come into contact with a person at risk for suicide can participate in trainings. Participants who complete the training will be able to:

  • Promote open discussion of suicide risk
  • Identify a person at risk of suicide
  • Conduct an open discussion with a person at risk of suicide
  • Listen and show empathy to a person at risk of suicide
  • Connect a person at risk of suicide with someone trained in suicide intervention

Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR)

QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer - the 3 simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to become gatekeepers, helping them recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. Gatekeepers can be anyone, including parents, friends, neighbors, or co-workers. As a QPR-trained gatekeeper, you will learn to recognize the warning signs of suicide, know how to offer help, and know how to get help and save a life. (back to top)

Bullying Prevention and Intervention (Steps to Respect):

Bullying can significantly interfere with students’ academic, psychological, and social development, and it is linked to numerous adverse health outcomes including mental health disorders, substance abuse, and suicide risk. Bullying's impacts are felt not only by the young people who are targeted but by those who enact and those who witness bullying. IERS staff members provide in-school training in the widely used Steps to Respect curriculum created by the Committee for Children as well as customizable all-staff trainings that include:

  • Defining bullying
  • Teaching social skills and expectations: how to recognize, respond, and report on bullying; assertiveness skills; role of bystanders; empathy; problem-solving
  • Assessment of bullying and school climate
  • Providing consequences that teach
  • Staff handling of reports of bullying
  • Coaching students who are being bullied and those who bully
  • Curriculum integration (back to top)

Psychological First Aid (PFA)

PFA provides practical skill-building for individuals, teams, and health care/justice/school staff to provide mental health recovery care to students and adults in the immediate aftermath (hours or days) of a community tragedy, exposure to violence, natural disaster, or high-profile suicide. Training includes:

  • Integration with school safety/response plans, incident command, and community agencies
  • Contact and engagement, safety and comfort, stabilization, information gathering, practical assistance, connection with social supports, information on coping, and linkage with collaborative services
  • Listen, protect, connect model and teach skills
  • Practical skill building (back to top)