Nov 282013

Presented what I have learned putting together the Handling Intense Emotions curriculum to 12 seasoned social workers on Friday Nov 22 at a continuing education event hosted at Hamburger University by the University of Chicago. Technical glitches abounded, not with the Articulate Storyline software used to create the digitized portion of the curriculum, but the general old fashioned kind, getting the sound of a computer and out into the world. There are pitfalls to a curriuculum that uses digitized media. It raised a question: Do we need to build an analog back-up to Handling Intense Emotions.

Feedback-wise, it was a mixed set of opinions. One woman who works with a completely different population — medical students from low income communities — loved the validation and validation plus skills and saw how they could be used with stressed out young docs. “Of course you are overwhelmed. Who wouldn’t be?”

A very seasoned children’s services social worker chafed at my assertion that we were putting too much emphasis on trauma and not enough emphasis on other factors that contribute to children’s development. The trauma folks –and I consider myself one — are having their day in the spotlight. Trauma is finally being recognized for the harmful role it plays in our most difficult communities, neighborhoods and families. They don’t want the spotlight going elsewhere.

Strong EmotionsAt the same time, she thought we should not shy away from the psychoeducation in module 2 for youth. Some youth found the material demoralizing as it points out the disadvantages some youth must cope with in life. She felt strongly that it needed to be in the curriculum to help youth see that their emotional make-up makes sense.

Meanwhile, the module 4 faciliation manual for youth was completed. We are making progress!

Apr 252013

MegaphoneLast night, students in my class, Cognitive and Behavioral Interventions for Children and Families, got a bit of a preview of one section of Handling Intense Emotions. I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be. But the students seemed to understand the skills we were teaching, played along with the practice exercices and laughed at the right times. Emily was in the class and told me later  she heard only positive comments.

The section I showed was on Validation Plus statements. It builds on Marcia Linehan’s notion of pairing validation statements with change statements. Example: “Of course you are upset that your Mom didn’t visit; anyone in your situation would be upset. At the same time, you have to figure out other ways to express how upset you are other than hitting the wall. It is dangerous and causes damage.” We play on that to think of all kinds of statements that can be paired with validation to help caregivers say what needs to be said and have youth be able to hear it because it follows a well crafted validation statement. After a few practice attempts, the students’ efforts were pretty good.