When Tragedy Strikes*what will you do?

“When Tragedy
Strikes…what will
you do? “
An orientation to crisis response for school counselors
Dr. Larry Little
• Welcome and Introductions
• Jane Dykes, Retired School Counselor
• Gail Simmons, Office Director, MDE
• Objectives
• Review for counselors who have previously been trained and an
orientation for those who have not been trained.
• Activities will involve understanding what constitutes a crisis and
scenarios of crisis in a school setting.
• Role playing crisis counseling in a school setting.
• Provide handouts and resources for school counselors
What you do know?
Activity - Brainstorming
1. Use sticky notes to identify crisis provoking events.
2. Categorize the events under specific headings provided on the
chart paper.
3. Review by whole group and define a crisis.
What Defines a Crisis?
“ A crisis exists when there is the perception of an event or
situation as being intolerable, exceeding the resources and
copying mechanism of the individual” When Tragedy
Strikes…what will you do? Dr. Larry Little
Use a blank sheet of paper to answer these questions:
• What does your current crisis response plan look like?
• List at least 3 components of your school’s crisis response plan.
• Does your plan address various forms of crisis events as
previously defined?
• Share your experiences.
What are Some Safety and Crisis
Management Components?
• Levels of planning – your school, your district, regional,
• Statewide MDE website Crisis Response Plan template
• At your school
Who constitutes your school crisis response team?
Who does what?
Communication to faculty to have all the FACTS.
Inter-agency communication
Transportation issues
How to Evaluate the Crisis
• Can counseling be handled in house?
• Will you need other district counselors?
• Do you need to go outside your district for additional
• Do you need elementary/middle/high school counselors and
how many? How many days?
• Has the incident occurred during statewide testing?
When to Implement?
• Decide whether you can handle immediate counseling needs
today and tomorrow.
• When will your school administrators meet with faculty to
discuss the facts and plans?
• When and where will your first counseling sessions begin?
Do you know your local
• Importance of accurate contact information to include a
phone tree and other technologies commonly used for
• Do you know the counselors in your district at the elementary,
middle and high school levels?
• Do you have a working relationship and contact list with local
mental health, safety and medical facilities?
How Do You Handle Onsite Crisis
Counseling in Schools?
• Know the purpose of the session is for students
to share their experiences.
• Give participants/students permission to share
or not to share.
• Use age appropriate materials and language.
• Use open ended questions.
• Use validating responses.
Group Rules
• Show respect for the expressions of others.
• Share your thoughts and experiences with others.
• Provide basic ethical confidentiality disclosure statements to
include privacy around discussion unless there is a concern for
the safety and welfare for an individuals or others.
• Give students permission to leave the group to go to the rest
room if necessary.
What are Basic Do’s and
• Use open ended questions, not questions that lead to yes or
no answers.
• Use “when life is more settled”, “usual”, or “regular” or “new
normal” rather than “normal.”
• Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.”
• Reassure students that you don’t know how it will turn out or
how people will adjust, but that you have faith that, together
we will make life better again.
• “You will not be abandoned. There will be a caring adult to
help you.”
• Have a “floater” in the hallways to be available for students
who leave their groups.
What are Appropriate Questions ?
What are some things you heard or saw?
Did you hear a big boom, people hurt, policemen, fireman?
What are things like for you right now?
How are things different; how are they the same?
What do you most wish adults understood about what it is like
for you right now?
• Use various media or materials for different development
needs, to include pictures, drawings, rating scales, etc.
• Remind students of their strengths and reliance. How have
you handled difficult time in the past?
• Reassure students that healing takes time.
• Reassure students that someone will be there. Help them to
identify an adult that will be helpful to them.
• Reassure students that they are safe and help them to
establish a “peace place” (going for a walk, journaling, fishing,
playing with a pet).
• Make sure that students leave the session settled. If a student
continues to display anxieties etc., make sure they are referred
to an appropriate adult or professional as needed.
Suicide Knowledge
Will discuss after 10 minute break
What are the Stages of Grief
• Can apply to any time there is a loss.
• Counseling during various crisis events at any level often result
in some type of loss to the individual or group.
• Grief may be part of the crisis process and healing process.
• Examples of loss - loss of home, job, life, boyfriend/
girlfriend breakup, divorce, sense of self, security, physical
limitations, etc., may cause grief.
Practice Handling a Crisis Event
Activity –
Instruction 1:
Select a slip of paper from the baggie the presenter will bring
Scenario – On the way to school the bus driver has had heart attack
and died causing the bus to overturn. Some of the students were
injured in the accident and hospitalized. Others were examined and
released. In addition to the bus driver three students were killed.
Instruction 2 - You have selected a role at random being provided by
the presenters. The “lead counselors” will begin the group session by
going over group rules.
Participants will role play being students impacted by this event and
were friends of riders and/or were on the bus. The observer/scribe will
make notes of comments and concerns brought up during the session.
Duration: 15 minutes
Wrap up
• Today we learned the definition of a crisis event.
• We discussed planning and the implementation of crisis
response teams.
• We introduced effective ways to conduct a debriefing process.
• We developed a list of strategies for the day on which
counselors from outside the school come to assist.
• We talked about maintaining contact information within the
school environment as well as developing telephone tree
and/or other communication system such text and Twitter.
• We emphasized the importance of local resources.
• We provided an opportunity to experience a debriefing
process and the importance of having language and activities
that are age appropriate.
Create a network with Business and other
Professional Agencies - Katrina
• Cisco $20 toward rebuilding Mississippi School in the aftermath of
Katrina they partnered with other entities including district
technology engineers in reestablishing broadband networks , the
Virtual Public Schools to name a few
• Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; $5 million toward classroom
books, math assistance, other literacy projects
The Bellsouth Foundation $2.5 expanded the states online learning
program; also partnered with and printed handbooks for counselor
• Legislative funds; allowed all Mississippi students in grades 9-12 free
access to any course offered by MVPS (courses tied to the SATP)
• Chevron $6 million – The Energy for Learning program provided
schools with academic and technology materials such as science
labs, information technology equipment and child care facilities.
Additional resources
Crisis Management Institute
National Organization for Victims Assistance
National Association of School Psychologists
Toll Free: (866) 331-NASP