Why Helping Grieving Students Heal Matters So Much

In November, Garcia and two colleagues began offering trauma support sessions for groups of about four students. Each group runs for 12 weeks, mostly via Zoom to accommodate in-person and virtual students. They use a cognitive-behavioral model that enables children to share their stories, recognize connections between emotions and behavior, and eventually reduce the intensity of negative feelings.

In a normal year, Garcia might facilitate one trauma support group. This year, she has run three. A colleague has done a similar number. They’ve also led resilience workshops for entire classes. Officially, Garcia’s job is focused on special education services, not counseling. She said some of these activities have been implemented by a partner agency in the past, but the technical logistics and unpredictable schedule made that too hard this year. So she adds to her own workload, sometimes missing lunch to fill the gaps.

“I can’t allow the students to not have that kind of support,” she said. Without it, kids can become disengaged from school and overwhelmed by the seeming endlessness of the pandemic. “So we’re trying to stretch ourselves.”

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