Strength Based and Trauma Informed Reports

This section of the book’s webpage is dedicated to mental health professionals, educators, and other health care professionals interested in sharing ideas about how we can hone our skills at writing both strength based and trauma informed reports. If you feel that you’ve successfully captured particular student strengths in a report you generated, and/or effectively communicated a particular challenge arising out of unusually stressful life circumstances, or as a result of other contextual influences beyond the student’s control, please share this with visitors to this page.

Readers of the book will recall from chapter 6 the following section that appears in reports we generate for students we believe to be impacted by unusually stressful experiences. We hope that you find it helpful. Other examples follow.

Extreme Stress and Its Impact On the Learning Process

Researchers now know that extreme stress can potentially affect a number of functions we rely on to succeed in school. It can affect our ability to concentrate, to retrieve information, to remain focused on our goals, and to control and regulate our emotions. This is the short list. Other functions can be affected as well. Researchers also now know that we all vary in how extreme stress can affect these functions. Different students will be impacted in different ways. Furthermore, our inherent resilient nature may not protect us from these effects. Resilient school-age children exposed to prolonged and extreme stress may be susceptible to learning problems associated with these conditions. Complicating matters even further, these learning problems may persist, even when extremely stressful conditions no longer prevail. It’s been said that we can at times bring our past to our present, and such may be the case for students who at one time in their lives suffered the effects of exposure to extreme stress.

We know that students suffering the effects of extreme stress exposure can suffer more if their struggles are attributed solely to conditions within their control (willful disobedience, laziness, a lack of resilience), rather than from conditions beyond their control. We are working hard to write our reports in an effort to prevent this from happening.

The study of extreme stress exposure, and its impact on the learning process, is an evolving field, and we continue to learn from the field’s experts. We will be updating our reports to include new advances in the field as we become aware of them.

Other Examples

The following paragraphs are also drawn from contents in the book, again in an effort to highlight strengths, legitimize differences, and help students learn to see challenges in a new light. These paragraphs now appear in the recommendation section of our reports. We hope you find them helpful.

As we will be discussing with (name of student) during the course of our upcoming meetings, some people do much better in life than they did in school. While the reasons can vary, one reason can be that the skills needed to do well in life are not always the same as the skills needed to do well in school. In real life, people are required to draw upon their real life problem solving skills, their skills in relating to others, and importantly, their ability to work hard and not give up when facing challenging situations. We believe that (name of student) enjoys these strengths and more, as we will be sharing with him during our upcoming meeting.

For those who share (name of student)’s learning profile, not only do many do better in life than they did in school, many also do better in community college, college or a post secondary training program than they did in earlier grades, perhaps because these settings offered them the opportunity to focus on courses that highlight their strengths and interests, and possibly also because of the number of available accommodations provided to them in college. It will be important that (name of student) realize this, as students with similar learning profiles often fail to appreciate their true potential.

Despite (his/her) learning challenges, (name of student) has the strength and capacity to be successful in life. And learning to be (his/her) own best advocate can help (him/her) realize (his/her) true potential. This begins by (name of student) gaining more insight into (his/her) areas of strength, (his/her) specific challenges, and the many available strategies, tools and accommodations that can potentially help strengthen and/or compensate for (his/her) challenges. We hope to discuss some of these strategies and accommodations with (name of student) during future meetings, and will also ask (name of student) to do (his/her) own research into this as well.

(Name of student) possesses important personal strengths and qualities that are easily overlooked on assessments such as these, among them being (his/her) ability to work hard and not give up in the face of challenging situations. (Name of student's) resilience in this regard will be discussed with (him/her) at greater length during our upcoming feedback meetings, as we feel that it is an extremely important quality that can serve (him/her) well years down the road.