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What Can this Grade School Teacher Do for Her Traumatized Kids?

21 Jul

Question:

Hello,

I need guided imagery for elementary school students living in violence. The Invisible Heroes book looks wonderful, but does it have anything for trauma in children?

I am a counselor working in a large elementary school, and I need something that I can use with groups of children. Any suggestions?

Thank you,

Maria

Dear Maria,

Yes, there is information about trauma and kids in Invisible Heroes, and I think especially the idea that what gets diagnosed frequently as ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder) can sometimes be posttraumatic stress in disguise – this concept from the book might be particularly useful to you.

But you're right: Invisible Heroes is mainly geared for adults (including adult survivors of childhood abuse) and it would give you a useful overview about what type of tools to use for adults or kids, but it doesn't sound like this is what you're after.

It sounds like you want some practical aids and programmatic "recipes" that you can use right away for your kids. I'd recommend a terrific book by Janice McDermott and Joan Stewart called Grand Ideas from Within. It describes a very successful after-school program for troubled middle school kids (easily adapted for elementary school age), using imagery, art and journaling.

Better yet, it comes with a Companion Guide for teachers and group leaders. This program has been evaluated with pre- and post-test measures of changes in school problems in the kids who participated (acting out, detentions, truancy, grades & performance, class participation, etc were assessed) and found to be very effective for producing behavior change in these "problem" kids. So I would definitely take a look at both of these books.

Additionally, there's a marvelous CD of kid exercises that also comes with a companion workbook, Ready... Set... Relax! by Jeffrey Allen and Roger Klein, that offers 14 well-written, fun, calming exercises for kids, from preschool through middle school, using music, breathing, muscle relaxation and guided imagery. I especially like Roger Klein's voice and the fact that it's a kind, strong, non-threatening guy voice.

I'd start with those, but another good choice would be Ellen Curran's excellent imagery book with ideas for kids, Guided Imagery for Healing Children & Teens.

For the really little ones, say, pre-K through 2 or 3, Roxanne Daleo's marvelous series of CDs and Charlotte Reznick's Discovering Your Special Place are great; for older grade school kids, Betty Mehling's Magic Island is a big favorite.

I hope this helps. I know it's way more than you need right now, but if I were a teacher, I'd start with Grand Ideas from within and take it from there.

All best and good luck,

Belleruth

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award.