My mind went back to a time when I had a student in class that was non-compliant to work on an activity I had planned. He refused to participate and then became disruptive to the others in the class. I asked the student to take a minute outside of class and then rejoin the class when he was ready to focus. During the exercise, I was able to think back on that situation. Questions that came up in my head were- why is this student refusing to do the activity, what outside factors may have contributed to his reaction, and then finally, what was the tone and request imposed by me that may have made him have a reactive response. What ended up happening is that the student stormed out and began ranting to another teacher about how unfair I was. In hindsight, maybe pulling him aside and asking him why he didn’t want to do the activity may have been a better solution. I was definitely feeling frustrated with this student at the time, and even thinking back to the time, my heart started racing at the memory. I think that we all have moments where we think, “man, I should have done that differently” or “I wish I had tackled that situation differently”. I think the TAP exercise can help us focus while we’re in the moment, so that we have fewer situations where we wish things had gone differently.
This happens regularly during my week. Fortunately I am able to debrief with my team members often to talk about “would you have done something different” or “I think that went well!” or “What just happened” when reacting to a student in crisis. At the end of the day ALL of these kids have trauma and it’s important to reflect on that often.
Two years ago, in the middle school where I now work full time as campus supervisor, I was working as a long-term substitute for the 8th grade English teacher. I had been in the classroom for several weeks already. During one class, while I was giving instruction during the first quarter of the period, a student walked in very late. This was a student with a long history of acting out in all of his classes and who seemed devoted to finding ways to communicate his disrespect for pretty much everything and everybody at school. By that time, I had learned his father was incarcerated and that he had been born a triplet, one of whom died at birth. He also had identified learning disabilities. On this occasion as he sauntered into class, smirking at the other students who were watching both him and me, I said, “Good morning, XX. I need a tardy slip.” Which of course meant that he needed a signed slip from the office for me to admit him to class. His response: “Then go get one.” I’m pretty sure I could feel my blood pressure rise on the spot, and also the laser-like focus of the other 24 students who were waiting to see how this played out. It was clearly a throw-down, a challenge to me and an invitation to become angry and escalate the situation and thus derail the class. I had to take a very deep breath and remind myself that no matter what I could not be effective if I lost my cool, and that his behavior, even if it was meant to get under my skin, in reality had nothing to do with me personally. I repeated the request, phrased unmistakably but calmly (“XX, the rule is that I can’t admit a student who is late to class unless they have a signed slip from the office. Please go get one.”) and then returned my attention to getting the rest of the class started on the next task. Once I’d done that, I approached the student and talked to him in a low voice and merely repeated my request until he complied. On reflection, I think I handled the incident better than I would have in my early days of teaching and working with youth, but it would have been even better if I had not allowed myself to be stressed by what I worried the other students were thinking, or that I might lose control of the whole class . . . which was very much the fear operating in me at the time.
This exercise brought me back to my time as a K-12 School Counselor in a small town. I was presenting a lesson to the Seniors as a part of their English course and one student in particular wanted nothing to do with me talking about Post-High School Plans. When I asked the students to write down on a small piece of paper, what they’d like to do after graduating high school he became very loud and disruptive, saying “this was stupid” and that he “didn’t want to do this” and that “it doesn’t matter anyway.” I was pretty embarrassed and more than a little frustrated as I had been trying to present the lesson and he was distracting through much of it. I was also a guest in a teacher’s classroom and they were there observing the class. I was worried the other students would agree with him and also begin being disruptive and that the teacher would think I was incompetent. That day I just moved right along with the lesson, explaining that this was important so that I could help them with their plans and assist in achieving their goals after graduation. I really just tried to focus on doing best to keep the rest of the class on task and not give that student any extra attention. The student in questioned continued his behavior and when class was done I think we all sighed with relief. In looking back on the situation I think I would have tried to swallow my pride a bit and made eye contact with the teacher of the classroom to see if she could offer any assistance. I also think that had I taken a breath, thought about what was maybe behind the defiance, I could have handled things a bit differently. I would have absolutely made it a point to pull the student aside at another time to have a discussion about what hat happened. I also think that had I addressed the situation instead of trying to ignore it or pretend like it wasn’t happening, I could have done so calmly and in a tone that would have moved the class forward with the lesson, but also addressed the situation. I really think the TAP method could be useful in my everyday life when working with students and families. It may even be useful when working with my own children!
I thought of a situation that happened with a youth group last week
there is 2 youth unable to really connect with the group setting and they constantly make noice and disturb the mindfulness practice or the school teacher.
So during this practice i visualized A and W and for the first time really gave them some empathy
it was hard yet really awakening to be able to see things under this trauma awareness lense
I do see how TAP could become one of my tool on regular basis
This reflection took me back to a time when I was a vice-principal at an elementary school. I was escorting a sixth grade student to the office who had just been aggressively involved in a fight. This student had previously been involved in other fights in which he had hurt others. I felt mixed emotions ranging from disappointment to anger as we walked to the office. I felt disappointed in myself for failing to provide a safe place for others. I also felt angered by the way that he continued to take out his aggression on others leading to physical harm. In walking him to the office, he began to express blame on others, including myself. I lost my ability to remain stoic and engaged him verbally and raised my voice at him. I later apologized to the student for doing so, but continue to feel disappointed in myself for losing my composure. This exercise allowed me to relive that moment vicariously and conduct myself as a trauma-informed professional. Take a breath, Acknowledge, and Proceed is a useful self-regulation strategy that can be universally applied to elcit one’s best self in the worst of situations.
I just love doing these exercises. I feel that I have used this technique throughout my life and as a teacher and trainer. What this module and exercise did for me was bring deliberate awareness to what I can do and how this will inform the possible outcomes. It also really helps me to acknowledge my own emotions and not be too heady. I used this technique (accidentally) in a training when a trainee got very agitated when I talked about “Dangerous Love”. She not only was agitated, she blurted out, “Why do you keep using that word – Dangerous?” She kept saying this and the whole group could see something was up? So I took my breathe, stepped forward, smiled and asked, “What word would you use?” “How does that word make you feel?” And there it was – so briefly she disclosed how the word made her feel. (I quickly realized that if the word dangerous was connected to the behaviors we were talking about, then she had been in a dangerous love situation.) I agreed to continue the conversation with her at break. Many in the training came up later and thanked me for allowing her to speak and said they too recognized that there was some trauma and history in the situation. Every situation is a learning opportunity for each of us. Thanks, this really helped.
We had a new staff member (my supervisor) corner a young person, which of course she was triggered by. I was called into the room, and knowing the young person, I knew that her reactions would be from a place of trauma. The new staff person I didn’t know, but being my supervisor made it challenging to step in. I had no choice, so I took a breath, which is my practice, and stepped in, actually physically stepped in between, and told the staff member to stop. There wasn’t much time to center myself, but I was able to remain calm and in control of myself. I proceeded by engaging both separately in defusing the conflict, encouraging the young person to practice her own calming and centering technique (breathe and take a walk). The staff person I had a conversation with later. Training around trauma-informed practices BEFORE she engaged with youth would have been valuable…. the TAP process is an important skill for our team to learn and practice.
I went back to a situation I was in last week on Friday with a student who has been in my counseling office a lot because she has anxietya and mood issues, unresolved grief from her grand-mother passing away 3 year ago, and episodes of cutting. She often gets set off by a dispute between friends and comes to my office crying. he will sit on the floor and isolate as if she were in danger. And she asks me to call mom, brother, grandpa, dad, whoever will be able to pick her up. If it does not happen quickly, she starts repeating “I want to go home” with a long hoooome, and tapping her thigh rhythmically. The last time she did this last Friday, I remember thinking “here we go again”; I was calm and ready to take it (and it lasted wuite a while) while my colleagues kept appearing through the listtle glass window in my door, with raised eyebrows and panicked looks, wondering if I was ok with it. And I nodded with a smile. I want to point out that outside of these episodes, she is 15 and really smart, so that we sometimes wonder if this is just a manipulative manoeuver to get her way (we being the social worker, her mother and brother, her AP, and me).
While I remain calm whenever this happens, and have used the breathing and acknowledging that I learned in the past with mindfulness trianing, I know that last Friday, as the umpteenth same scenario unfolded, I felt somewhat annoyed and distanced myself from her emotions and what she was acting out. I tried to re-engeage and get her to share what had triggered the current and sudden upset. When that did not work (“stop talking” “don’t” “I don’t want you to talk”, she said blocking her ears), I paused, let her relax, allowed for some silence, tried to make a few calls. Then, I tried some somatic approach with breathing. She was far too upset to be willing to try that. or any other movement technique I suggested.
So, as far as this student goes, I think it would be more productive to engage her when she is not triggered, as her reactions are intense and she rapidly goes from centered to fully dysregulated.
As an aside, and almost more interestingly, I want to share how, as I listened to the directions for this assignment for the third time in 2 days, after listening to the videos over several days, tonight I got a felt sense of how reactions and defensive mechanisms are actually a way for the individual to take care of him or herself. The past few times, I had an intellectual understanding, and an hour ago I heard it again, and several examples flashed in front of my eyes (including one of my sons) and I “got it,” I felt it. It was as if the behavior that from an observer’s point of view is dysfunctional and inappropriate can, with enough compassin and insight, be reinterpreted an a positive survival skill if you understand what they are going through. Without it, they would not make it, and with it, they can move on. It lead me to a spontaneous appreciciation for the gift of the body and mind in elaborating survival techniques. It certainly will help me feel more connected to students who dispaly these behaviors and also not let the raw emotions go right through me, as if they were a personal attack. (I hope this last past makes sense 🙂
The exercise took me back 3 years ago when I was a Substitute teacher in a class with 28 6th grade students. I was in the process of teaching them a math technique, when this one problematic child started disrupting the class by making noises, cracking silly jokes, hitting children in the class and jumping on his chair. I calmly asked him to please be quiet and to kindly be seated so that I may proceed with the lesson. He gave me a smirk and shouted “NO LADY! I’ll do whatever I want to; you’re not the boss of me.” I asked him once again, that’s when he gave me the finger. I felt my heart racing and blood rushing to my face. I was very upset and felt very much disrespected. I shouted at him, telling him since he didn’t wish to learn and refuses to take a seat, he can stand outside the classroom and enter when he is prepared to better conduct himself.
He stormed out the classroom, picked up some small rocks and began throwing them at the children in other classes; disrupting their session.
I think the situation could have been dealt with a bit differently, if I had remained calm and ask him repeatedly to remain calm. I learnt later that week that the came from a broken home and witnessed his mom being abused. If I had taken a step back, breathe, remained calm, despite my feelings I could have gotten a better and positive response from him.
The TAP technique maybe quit simple yet very beneficial when dealing with not only youths but people in general. It helps in allowing us to be focus in the moment so as to yield a positive result.
This compassionate, peaceful experience took me a time when I was working with a 5 year old and he was resistant to engaging with me when his previous session was warm, engaging and open and he was able to explore parts of himself; on the session I am talking about, he was protecting himself from getting too close and being rejected and from suppressing emotions of anger and sadness that he cant tolerate.. Going slow is hard sometimes when parents expect fast results but a safe warm, engaging environment is the most important thing in order to move onward and make changes and doing this exercise reminded me of the importance of that.
I believe I used T.A.P in this instance but was unaware that it was T.A.P until doing this meditation. I thought of re-doing the meditation and using another experience but I believe my mind first went to this experience for a reason.
It was a 1-1 with a youngster whom I had been working with for several months, relationship was positive, in a quiet room within a alternate provision school. I remember the clothes I wore, the clothes he wore, his body language, (arms wrapped around his middle and slouched forward) where we sat and the green table we sat around, I can hear the clock ticking and the faulty radiator trickling water.
The place that felt more comfortable on the body when breathing, (when first starting the meditation) was the place I felt the heaviness in my chest when the young person became none compliant in our session. The feeling I attach with the heaviness is sadness and the word I want to use is rejection, my breath was short and the air I was inhaling was little.
I recall uncrossing my feet and taking a couple of deep breaths, my thoughts were, I need to change my approach as this isn’t working, the rapport is fractured. I was silent for a minute and at this time his body language slightly changed. I offered up my thoughts & how I felt and my concerns if this was the end of our work together.
He stared for a moment, sat up straight, put his hands on the table, took a deep breath and explained the resistance.
It was a safeguarding concern I had reported several weeks before, (he was fully aware of my concerns & my disclosure to the safeguarding team) but the consequences of the report had only just began impacting upon his lifestyle.
On reflection what I have got from this meditation is a curious question about myself, in the moment I recognised the rapport was fractured the need to repair the relationship, was that about my need to fix the feeling of rejection for me or was that to repair the rapport for that relationship.
This experience was somewhat challenging as I found it uncomfortable to return to difficult situations with youth. I first noticed that I had a hard time picking between two situations with two different students – both caucasian young women with blonde hair. Hmm. Implicit bias? Some other trigger for me? So that was helpful self-awareness.
I chose a situation where I was counting on a student who was a leader in the class to start an opening activity well so that the others would also be engaged. However, she was very negative about the activity. She was somewhat compliant but mostly did not engage and impacted everyone else with her negativity. I felt anxious that the group was moving towards negativity as a whole, worried that I had lost respect with the group, and concerned that we would have a very bad day together. Also I was sure that she was directing the negativity at me for something I had done to offend her. I remember checking in with the student during the activity and she said she just wasn’t into this type of activity. However, her negativity (tone of voice, facial expression, body language) was disproportionate and unusual based on our relationship in the past. At the time, I just got through the activity even though everyone in the room could feel the tension. When using the TAP method during the meditation, I noticed a huge shift when I felt compassion for the student. I wondered what had happened that she was in such a negative space and took it way less personally. Detaching ego and moving away from taking behavior personally is key to skillful response. I don’t exactly know what I would have done differently (maybe ask her if she just wanted skip the activity, ask her what she needed or have a discussion with the class around choosing to take care of oneself – I don’t really know.) However, if I had worked through some self-management, I could have responded more skillfully in the moment. (I did check in with her later but she was “shut down” and unwilling to discuss it with me.)
This practice took me back to a situation I had with a young girl a while back that was being very disrespectful to her mother. Her mother ask for me to go into the home and have a word with the young lady because she was talking about stop going to school and leave her mothers home. She was very resistant in engaging with me as a stranger and the way she was acting and talking to her mother for some reason triggered me to get upset and feel angry towards her because he mother works hard to provide and send her to school; I believe that the exercise could have been beneficial to both of us because her mother was also a trigger for her. Being more compassionate I could have acknowledge that her mother was triggering her as well. We would have been able to proceed I believe because the next time I met with her, her mother was not around and she was able to communicate with me and express herself freely. I will try this with more of my clients so that I can make them a been more comfortable and open to engage.
Thanks for the opportunity to relate again.
I’ve been a Mindfulness teacher for about 15 years now, and I’m familiar with variations of TAP. Working with young people is a new field for me and im aware of the presence of implicit bias in a way it is usually not present working with adults. This is really interesting for me… so, at the moment is my working ground -day in and day out.
Thanks for this practice , which basically means, now I have a guided practice. Besides, I love visualizations.
Till next time.
nb. due to work reasons wont be possible for me to attend the webinar, which is a shame but can’t change the commitment I have with my group. Hope it will be recorded.
I remember when I was doing a group session with some teens between the ages of of 16-19 years. There was one young man who was very disruptive in the session. He kept yelling, made all sorts of noise and did not want to participate in the session. Initially I was upset because everyone else was paying attention and participating. I was saying to myself if he continued with the same behavior I would have asked him to step outside of the session. I think TAP would have definitely been beneficial for me in that moment because I would have been able to handle the situation in a better way. I would not have allowed myself to become flustered by his behavior and I would have known how to assess and move forward. Even though this is an introductory course it’s helping me to better understand why some of the clients that I interact with behave the way they do in addition to identifying the connection between their traumatic experiences and their behavior.
This took me to an experience teaching mindfulness to a fourth grade class just a few days ago. I am a volunteer mindfulness teacher at the school. This class has been having a difficult time after their teacher left the school a few weeks ago. Many of the students were having side conversations in the middle of the lesson. At the time I was well aware of the importance of maintaining my self-regulation and modeling how I handled the disruption. I noticed my breathing and my frustration, and quietly said, “may I have your attention” several times. This resulted in several students contributing to asking their classmates who were still talking to quiet down and pay attention, and we were able to resume the lesson.
Thank you for this practice, Sam.
I don’t love the meditation yet however I went through it and I do enjoy reflecting.
I have been using the TAP method with a child recently with a lot of success. I didn’t realise what I was doing. He now looks for me when he is becoming escalated and is eager to take a breath when I guide him towards this. I am eager to try this for myself. I do find myself becoming overwhelmed, angry and frustrated at times. I am sure that if I took a moment to acknowledge my own emotions they would be less likely to boil over as I proceed and I would be able to handle the situation much more skillfully.
The 10 minute audio was very relaxing and I was able to recall an incident that happened to me this year in the month of May. The incident happened during a Gender Awareness Safe School session that I conducted with a class with twenty five youths. It was the last session with them and I was presenting on values. This young man was interrupting my session with comments not relevant to what I was presenting and all he wanted was attention. At the beginning, I tried to ignore him, but when I noticed that he was having the attention of the class, I felt frustrated and angry but, I tried not to show it. I went close to his chair and with a smiling face, I asked him to kindly allow me to continue with my session. He stopped talking and I don’t know how he felt, but my impression was that he felt ashamed of himself and realize he was doing wrong. At the end of the session, he came to apologize and to thank me for all the session I had done with them. As a social workers, I face a lot of challenges every day with clients. Clients always come with a lot of anger and frustration as most of them are victims of domestic violence and have a lot of trauma. At the beginning their tone of voice is high but little by little, I get to calm them down and I let them understand that its not their fault. The T.A.P method is excellent and what I like about it is the deep breath and also that it allow for me to think that the reactions of clients is as a result of trauma. I will definitely put into practice the T.A.P model and I am sure it will benefit me and will allow me to be patient and understand reactions of youth and adults that I work with.
I recalled a moment in which I was conducting a group with young adults. I was proposing something as part of the group’s agenda, but one person reacted in a way that set off my reaction. Even though I was aware of this person’s traumatic history, I could not stop myself from reacting the way I did. If I took a deep breath, I might have had more time to think about how I would have responded. When engaged with people who have tendencies to argue, I find it very challenging to stop the torrent of emotions that suddenly flood the room and sabotage the process that was happening. The T.A.P. technique will help me, from the moment that I pause and take a deep breath.
This exercise took me back to a moment where a kid was in a stand off with me and had an object in his hand that he had intended to use as a weapon. I remember my own anxious and fearful feelings and triggers of my own powerless “stuff.” Needless to say I reacted and moved into remove the object to ensure safety. Thinking of this TAP exercise, I see that a breath could have brought me back to myself. It would allowed me to ground enough to engage my own logical thinking brain. I could have acknowledged this young man’s frustration and started a dialogue to resume control rather continue in a pattern that determined power. I think I would have responded differently had I began with breath, and this will definitely be a key take away from this course.
This exercise took me back to a situation in which one of my students was in a state of agitation due to something that had occurred in his home the night before. He was being disrespectful and very aggressive in nature. My first response was to be angry, however, knowing that there is always a function behind actions, I did take a breath. I lowered my voice and asked him to please take a walk with me. At first, it didn’t work but as I continued to breath and speak slowly and softly to him, I was able to remove him from the class and begin a dialogue with him that ended up being very enlightening. This TAP exercise was wonderful and something that as a high school Principal I have to practice regularly. I have learned that normally my first reaction is not going to be the best reaction, so I do practice waiting and breathing and engaging my front brain before diving into situations.
Good Afternoon everyone, in analyzing a moment where I believed the TAP technique as a youth worker in my community would have been helpful was first being the facilitator of the SCAIS- Self-esteem, conflict resolution, anger management independent living skills program in my community. I remembered working with a mixed group of youths from the level young offenders to just basic juvenile delinquency. I can recall entering this room with about 15 children who were very rowdy. I asked the group to sit and be quiet as we are about to commence working on developing our basic life skills. One particular young man immediately became very offensive and decided to challenge me as the facilitator and became very disruptive and was distracting the others. I asked him to get stood up and get out of the class in a very stern manner. I felt very angry and frustrated and I felt that needed to assert my authority. I later realized that this behavior was an adaptation to trauma by this individual as his past life experience was one of physical and verbal abuse. He developed a strong resistance to any situation when feels that is being bullied. Had I knew of TAP technique I would have created a more supportive and cooperative environment by developing group norms and objectives.
Thank you for this technique! It is short and sweet. I practice mindfulness regularly and have been exposed to many acronyms such as STOP and RAIN but this one really resonates with me. While I was doing this practice I thought of a particular student that I have this year. I usually am pretty good at the T and P part but not so good about A. For whatever reason I get upset at myself for being anxious or angry when this student is disruptive and I don’t give myself time just to acknowledge my own feelings and biases. I also love the part of sending the student compassion for taking care of themselves. I think when we look at others through this lens it is so much easier to empathize because we are all trying to do our best right?
Thank you so much Sam!
During this exercise I thought about a situation I had with a student this past week. I find that I work hard at trying to consider the possibility that the behavior may be a result of trauma especially since I am aware of this child’s early life history. I realized as I learned about the TAP technique that I don’t give myself the time to take the deep breaths and acknowledge my own feelings. I was outside the school building at the time and anxious that I wouldn’t be able to keep the student from becoming more upset and running off. I need to remember that these students are doing the best they can and are trying to take care of themselves. I plan to post this acronym on the bulletin board in my classroom as a reminder to use this technique.
I do think this process can be helpful in a morning routine for me in the quietness of the school building before students arrive. Having a mental image of how a scenario may play out is helpful to keep voice tone and word choice skillful. To me, it is another attempt to keep the end in mind for the student. I had an example from Friday where a small group transitioned for a reading segment where a troubled student had gotten in trouble for something he said. I asked if he was ok. Before he could finish two other students interrupted and agitated the situation. I was able to get back on track and completed the lesson with all seven of them calm. I agree with Sam that acknowledging humanity and the tendency to vary from intentions. Being able to refocus through feet on the floor and a couple of deep breathes really changes the outcome of situations.
Thank you for sharing this technique!
I thought of a group counseling session that I lead a couple of weeks ago. Two of the students were engaged with a third student being disengaged and refusing to join the group. Since I spent time researching and planning for the lesson, it frustrated me when the student refused to participate. I repeatedly asked if he wanted to join, but chose to continue with the lesson and discussion with the other two students. I think that this strategy would work in situations when I am feeling flustered or frustrated. I do not know if I would be able to stop for 10 minutes to try it, but I think a shortened version would be helpful during difficult situations.
Having done the reflective exercise, my mind was drawn to a situation I encountered with an adult client as a young Social Worker. I was assigned to investigate a case of suspected neglect (truancy). I located the family and started my initial engagement with the mother (alleged perpetrator). I shared the basis of my visit and the concerns and we proceeded to start a discussion regarding the situation. I recalled her being very calm, welcoming and open to talk about her situation. I had scanned my environment and felt that it was non-threatening so I gave the driver a thumb up (meaning I felt safe and that he would take the other officers to locate their families). The very instant that the vehicle left, and I was alone, the client turned on me. Her calm, engaging personality turned into aggression and threat of physical harm. Shocked by the sudden turn of events, I froze. I remember counting to 10 in my head and taking deep breaths, coaching myself to not lose my composure and to not become confrontational. I kept telling myself “she doesn’t know you, she is not angry with you, find out why she is angry, find out how you can help her, don’t take it personal. Of course, I was also praying for God to keep me safe. As she ranted about her situation, I just stood and listen. I only responded when she directed questions at me. I used those opportunities to offer some reassurance to her about her situation and that my intentions were to help and not harm. I kept my tone soft and my composure as calm (even though I was overly panicked).
She shared that all she wanted was for someone to stop accusing her but offer her the necessary support that the child needed. I learned that this client gave birth to her baby when she was a teenager, the child was a product of her being raped by her step-father, apart from being sexual abused, she was also emotionally and physically abused by him. He abused drug and alcohol. The child was mute and suffered from epilepsy.
TAP was definitely applied in this situation.
Take a breath (collecting yourself in the moment by taking a few breaths)- I remember counting and breathing in my head so as to physically calm myself. I had to keep my fear level in checked so as not to give her any indication that I feared her and was vulnerable. I prayed from God to protect me.
Acknowledged (Acknowledge how you feel in the moment; acknowledge that the youth’s behavior could be a result of trauma and therefore be compassionate) – There were moments when I was taken over by fear of being harmed. My body physically reacted by a rise in blood pressure, sweating and shaking. I kept reminding myself that her reaction was not directed at me personally, but that there must be something deeper that had happened to her that my presence triggered. As she proceeded to divulge information from her childhood, I acknowledge, affirmed and was empathetic towards her).
Proceed (choose the best intervention in the moment and proceed with it) – Because from assessment, I knew that the child was not in immediate danger, I knew that there was an opportunity for me to re-engage the mother regarding the presenting matter. So, in that moment the best possible intervention was to offer counselling support to her. After we spoke in lengths about her own childhood challenges, I was able to contract with her that we will have a follow up visit, she allowed me to meet with the child i, I was able to call her mother to come over to support her in that moment and we had scheduled a follow-up for her to meet with me and a trained counselor.
On a quick side note, if you click off this unit, and your writing is not uploaded, it is not saved.
Some many stories…..
My current 11th grade female comes to mind for many reasons. For instance, our working relationship took about 3 months to manifest. I feel that in that three months, she was putting up the protective shell to help block past trauma and as a defense to keep adults from getting too close issues that manifested the behaviors. What fascinated me was that she used all three mechanisms of defense, fight, flight and freeze, at any given time. On many occasions, I had to remind myself that I was not the root cause of the behaviors, yet I was the receiving end of her behaviors.
That said, she now recognizes that I am a strong ally and advocate for her in the high school setting. I may have not used TAPs as defined, but the technique is something that I incorporated in building the trust between her and I.
What I have found working with students that are trauma impacted, is that it will take time to gain the trust of the students, and that the students will show you their worst as a test for not giving up on them in times of crisis. A lot of the times it can feel as if I am the root cause of the behaviors, yet by showing up in times of crisis neutrally (TAPs) helps position me in a place where to help. Be it interactions with that particular student, or by helping to problem solve between the student and another staff, I feel that we must remind ourselves the behavior might be larger that the antecedent or the individuals involved.
Thank you for the exercise.
This exercise reminded me of a situation in which I was facilitating a girls group focused on building their social skills. One day, one of the students was making comments about the activity being “stupid and a waste of time.” She then began side conversations with the girls and it was becoming very distracting. I could feel myself becoming frustrated. I took a deep breath and regained my focus. I was able to have a conversation with the student after the group ended. She shared that she was having a rough day due to things going on at home (parents divorcing). I believe I used a form of T.A.P. when I engaged with this student. It is useful.
In doing this exercise I taught of a situation that occurred with two youth as I was gathering them for a session. One youth was upset with another and outside the meeting area as they were walking towards the meeting room one youth was shouting treats to the other. Keep in mind that both are aggressive youth, so my emotions were heighten because I kept thinking that this will trigger the other youth and both will end up in a fight; so I need to intervene before it gets to that point especially since there were other youth present who would enjoy to see a fight. I recall feeling frustrated at the youth who was shouting treats to the other. As I went through the TAP exercise what stood out to me was when Sam said to extend compassion to the youth; that surely would have made my tone calmer when I stopped him to talk with him before going into the meeting room. I sense that he heard my frustration towards him as I used a firm voice. He argued his point and not hearing me saying to him that “he needs to calm down and not speak to his peer in that manner.” I heard his point but did not respond to him; it was his way of protecting himself base on treats that were sent to him prior to the meeting. I eventually informed him that his behaviour would disrupt the group so I sent him back to his building and inform him that I will meet with him alone. In going over the scenario using TAP, with that technique I could have said something differently in a low voice and acknowledging his reaction as his way of protecting himself and that he was not intentionally planning on disrupting the group. I could have ask questions to get him to stop ranting but to tap into his frontal brain.
I felt for the most part that since I have been practicing self awareness for some time and don’t take what the youth say as personal that I have been doing well working with them. It has become evident that over the past few years that we have been working with youth at the facility who are experiencing multiple trauma and that even being calm in engaging them can trigger the youth. I am looking forward to learning more tools of how to engage skillfully youth such as these. The TAP is one tool that will certainly improve my interventions with the youth.
I was able to think about a particular situation in this exercised. I remembered an experience I had a 4th grader at one of my school sites. For privacy purposes I will call her Susan. Susan is a student who has experienced the abandonment of her birth mother, physical abuse from her father, and finally being placed in foster care. She has been experiencing trauma adaptations since she was in 1st grade. In the situation I remembered, Susan had left the classroom and was refusing to follow the directions of the principal as she was following Susan around the school. I was called and I went to speak with Susan. I validated her feelings based on what she was displaying physically and she agreed to come with me back to her class; however, when we got to the door of her class she refused to go inside. Although we had spend the previous 30 minutes talking about how she would enter and could help her stayed calm in that moment she simply refused to enter. She began to hang from the railings that are by her classroom door and I noticed that the students in her class were starting to look at us through the window. In that moment I felt embarrassed because I thought that the teacher and the students were going to think that I had no idea how to work with Susan. My embarrassed prohibited me from realizing that Susan was again using on her trauma adaptions and I completely missed the cue to connect with her and get to a different outcome. I 100% agree that using a strategy like T.A.P could have helped me in that moment with Susan. Had I used it I probably would have sat next to her in the railing and simply waited for her to “get back online” with her rational thinking. I think that using T.A.P can be used in an array of situations with students who are considered “difficult.” Being able to acknowledge our own feelings and the idea that the behavior may be a surviving response can put empathy back on the table, so that our response can best meet the specific needs of that student at that time.
I am interested to use the tap technique. I also really liked the analogies from this module
The T.A.P. exercise took me back to a particular family (single mother and teenage son) that I worked with while doing Intensive In-Home. The son was actually adopted by the mom’s mom when he was two years old. The mom’s mom died when he was 7 and the daughter took on the role of his mother. He was very defiant, always resistant, angry and disrespectful. The in-home sessions were always chaotic in that most sessions were met with crisis situations resulting from disagreements, non-compliance, and running away, judging, and belittling. I recall feelings of sadness and helplessness. I definitely feel that the T.A.P. exercise would have been beneficial during the stressful sessions. Taking the breaths prior to sessions and during times in which I was unable to redirect them, would have assisted with the frustrations and anxiety that I felt. I most definitely had compassion for both, and in terms of proceeding I feel this exercise would have been a positive tool in assisting me with proceeding through the day-to-day crisis in a more skillful fashion.
TAP is a caling techinque that I would have to applied to my every day uses. I am face with many cases that needs me to be on a level where I use TAP to intervene and make sound desicions.
The exercise took me back to a teenager who turn 18 yrs and wanted nothing to do with the Department; as we were offering her cahnces to attend 6th form and all. My emtions was flaring, I was upset and frustated at her, I just could nto understand to the piont I had to walk out of the office and ask my co-worker to talk with her. I just could not comprehend what was going on inside her head. If I had the power, I would have pick apart her brain to intervene and make some desicion or alter herr brain to make better judegment and descions. She has so much going for herself, she is a beaituful, outgoing personality and smart; however she was adamant and refused all services from the Department. In the end she still wanted to heard nothing I had to say and was adamant that she want to leave and go live with her boyfiriend.
I had to come to realization that maybe I was pushing her too hard, but it still was not easy for me to understand. With me fighting with her on that day and the day after and also on the day of her 18th birthday; I now realized that I was fighting with myself because she still left and wanted nothing from the Department.
Now TAP would help me more to bring a peace of mind to myself before I excalated on any clients and for me to reason with one understanding.
Automatically an incident that happened recently came to mind when doing this exercise, as a matter of fact even while listening to the different units I thought of this particular case. The individual was being very disruptive and loud and when i called her attention, i was ignored and the behavior continued until i got very upset and just shouted at the person in front of a group and brought her behavior to attention and told her she was being disrespectful. At the moment i was upset that i didn’t even realize my reaction until i went home and sat down and did my regular reflective techniques of all that happened in the day. Most definitely TAP would have worked for me because i realize that i do some form of reflection but i do it after the fact to analyze what I have done and how to make it better. TAP is much better because prior to reacting I will T-take a breath, A-acknowledge P-then proceed. If i had done this, then the outcome would have been much better and dealing with the individual would have been more professional and much more effective. I have had difficulties with self management of the pyramid, it is something i am constantly working on. I guess i am more human than I thought by having sudden reactions to other behaviors that could be TA. As you had discussed self actualization will help with self management which i totally agree with as i try manage my reaction to individuals. TAP will be my next practice technique for the future.
I am reminded of a job I had several years ago. I was drug and alcohol counselor with adolescents in an outpatient treatment center. There was this one particular class that I ran in the evenings. It was mostly males and it was at the end of a very long day. The boys had another counselor that just up and quit. I was the replacement and they did not like me from the getgo. The boys were disrespectful and not listening to me. I practiced TAP on myself because I could not let them see that they were getting on my last, short nerve. I think that the boys could have benefited from the exercise but they probably would not have listened because it was coming from me. I am a much more skill for therapist now and I would never have allowed that behavior to continue. Today I would have approcated the group in a different way.
…(continued).Today I am much more less reactive and more proactive. I have a better understanding of my own trigger and I am much more aware of my body and my feelings/emotions mostly because of the meditation practice I use. Meditation and mindfulness, using grounding techniques has been a lifesaver for me- in my practice and in my own private life. I struggle with ADHD and anxiety and no medication has helped me like learning meditation and grounding/centering. I am a Christian but have found the Buddhist techniques I use to be second to none when it comes to my mental health and my ability to relate and help my clients. Thank you Sam for imparting your wisdom to use and I love your soft gentle voice that is very reassuring. Namaste.
Liked the short excercise, took me back to my first year being a teacher. I stepped in my home room class and one of the student was sitting on his desk talking to the person behind him with his back towards me. I told him to please have a seat which he did, got off his desk and sat in his chair however during the course of the session he keep turning around to continue his discussion with his peer. I stopped talking and looked at him, the entire class’s attention was on him and he sensed that he was the center of attention now, he turned around and saw me looking at him. I looked at him for awhile and asked if he wanted to share his story with the rest of the class or if we can continue with with the session. I was waiting for a smart answer from him as I was told he was the mouth piece of the class however he just told me to continue and I told him “thank you”. I believe if I had shouted at him he would have reacted as he would not have appreciated being shout at infront of his peers.
This exercise actually made me think about my interactions with my nephew. He is 6 years old and very shy when dealing with anyone besides his sister and brother. The thing is, he was living with his mother for the first 3 years of his life. During that time, Our family didn’t know much of what was going on with him. Nevertheless, he came to live with my mother and has been for the past years. The interactions with him are frustrating for me. I say this because when he is asked anything, he would just look at you like a deer caught in head lights. Simple things like ‘What color is your bike?’ or ‘Did you get homework today?’. He would just look at me and I guess, try to figure out what mood I’m in (?). I noticed that once he is yelled at, he breaks into tears (quietly, I must add) or stiffens up, as if preparing himself for something. When he is spoken to gently, he still looks at you but he smiles too. I’m guessing he smiles to make the person happy (?). We have always wondered what happened to this kid but he is still so closed off. We have guessed it was some kind of abuse) When dealing with him, I get frustrated because it takes him 10 minutes to answer anything. I have to take a breathe and remind myself that he is fragile. He has become more open and playful over the years. He has definitely come a long way. This TAP exercise, I will share it with my family. I believe we need it to deal with him.
In the last few years, I’ve started to check-in with myself regularly to become more self aware, but some days it all goes out the window. This exercise took me back to one of those days. Although I struggle to recall the exact details of the interaction I had with a particular 17 year-old male in a substance abuse group, I vividly recall the intensity of my frustration and the physical response I had at the time. I knew my emotions had taken over. I knew the youth’s history. I knew his behavior was a protective mechanism, but in the moment, I didn’t care. I responded to him in an accusatory manner with obvious annoyance in front of his peers. Not my best moment. A learning experience. Later, I felt awful about the way I handled it, that I’d made it all about me. I did talk to him individually to discuss the incident, but it still harmed our therapeutic relationship.
I love the TAP acronym. It simplifies the process and could work as a tool to refocus myself.
This was a great exercise for me. I focused on a recent interaction that had with a person just an hour prior. I really liked holding them in my mind with compassion and it felt like a weight shifted when I did so. It was also very useful to imagine and live into how I would have liked the interaction to have gone – as real potential, rather than staying with the discord in the interaction as it was.
Thank you for this exercise.
This was a great exercise, it took me back to a time when I was a talking to an individual that was angry, not necessarily with me but with the situation at hand. They were so angry they were not making any sense in what they were saying. I could tell that what ever they were thinking was not about the current situation, that they were thinking of something else and getting angrier as the time went by. Instead of saying anything, I froze and let the situation get worse. I felt very anxious and confused on how to help them realize that the current issue was not the same situation playing out in there head. My silence escalated the situation into the individual transferring there emotions and feelings on to me and they started yelling untangable words that had no relevance to the current situation.
During the exercise I realized that had i taken a step back and taken a breath to ground myself and acknowledged the fact that I was anxious and confused. That I was not actually the person this individual was angry at, and I would of been able to ask simple questions that could of helped the individual come back to reality and see that they were indeed not in the same type of situation as whatever there mind had taken them to. I could of helped them see that they were in a safe environment and that I was only trying to be empathetic to there feelings. Rather then them getting defensive to my silence.
I really liked this exercise. I believe it is essential to look back on your past experiences and acknowledge the fact that there were other possibilities to how you might of approached the situation. And also it has the ability to help a person realize that maybe it was not their fault or that what happened was not something they caused. It is a good reflection technique.
My mind went back to a student who was frequently non-compliant in class as he frequently took any redirection as he was doing something wrong. This generally lead to him being asking to leave class, which again escalated this behaviour, leading to the class being asked to leave the room, or him being escorted out of the class. Either of these options usually escalated him more because all the focus was on him. He would frequently become physically aggressive with staff. This was always the most important part, as many staff would react to his actions and hurtful words. I always found that him and I had a good rapport, and oftentimes I would be able to deescalate fairly quickly. While not officially using T.A.P, I did use these skills while working with him. When someone is screaming profanities and insults in your face, this is an opportune time to take some deep breaths and collect yourself. When working with kids in residential treatment, trauma always has to be considered because so many of our clients have experienced so many traumatic events in their life, leading them to being in care in the first place. Lastly, using that rapport, as well as techniques that we as a staff team have seen work for him, I am able to work with him to calm him down. Some of these techniques included deep breathing, grounding exercised (see, hear, touch etc), as well as using pressure techniques (pushing down lightly on his shoulders, while he pushed his shoulders back into our hands). Generally this was effective, and then could sit and debrief with him about what triggered him, skills he can use to keep himself calm in the classroom and techniques we can use to help calm him if he is asked to leave.
That being said, sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the commotion, especially if your having a rough day and just not feeling on top of your game. Learning an acronym is sometimes easier because you can say the word, and be able to focus on the three steps if you forget. It is difficult to help someone work through their feelings when you get caught up in them as well.
Very Profound experience. The situation I went back to was dealing with a pair of female absconders from detention facility. They had escaped and ran about two districts away and had eluded authorities for about 3 days. I was very worried about them, one was my client and the other was not. When they were captured, the police called me to return them. I went to pick them up and upon getting in to the vehicle with some obscenities, and driving off they were otherwise calm. I began speaking to my client they were both seated behind me, and asked her what happened and why she chose to run away when we had just developed a service plan for her that was in her favour for an early release. My client was exhibiting remorse for her actions and was answering my questions and responding to being reproached about the situation. The other female started cursing me, and told me to shut up and threatened to run away again and to jump out of the vehicle. Overall, she was blatantly interrupting the talk I was having with my client and the possibility of a breakthrough to prevent recidivism. I was so upset, in terms of I have sisters that were that other young lady’s age and none of them could ever ever ever talk to me that way, and there this young lady was just disrespecting me. In reflection, I think I did the first step and second step of TAP, I took a deep breath and acknowledged how I felt. I felt I reflected more on the repercussions of my taking her on, as I felt that whatever I did would fuel her , whether or not it was in an effort to deescalate the situation. I chose my battle I decided then to ignore her and leave the talking for when I would be alone with my client. I proceeded with that. Again, in retrospect, I could have employed positive reinforcements and simply allow them to vent their frustrations of being caught rather than questions or reproach any of them. The children in the detention facilities here, have undoubtedly experienced trauma in their lives and absconding, disrespect to authorities and residence in general are common ways it manifests and is exhibited. I really liked this activity and can use it when I get negative feelings or am in an uncomfortable situation
Thanks a lot sir, for this nice and wonderful exercise. It was something I could do with full attention.
Thanks a lot.
I went back to a previous school (in my mind) that I worked at for students who had been permanently expelled from mainstream schools for various reasons. All of our students had experienced trauma and disruptive behavior was a regular aspect of every lesson. I was able to reflect on a specific incident from early on in my years at this school, before I learned to handle these situations better. Bringing back the memories did not have a pleasant impact on my physiology. I feel like I was living in a constant state of being emotionally overwhelmed the whole time a worked there. In this specific incident that I chose to reflect on I felt overwhelmed, helpless, frustrated. My breathing got shallow and my chest tight. Generating feelings of compassion certainly did help retrospectively. And since that moment I have learned to understand these students behavior better. So often I acted reactively to the students’ behavior rather than choosing how to proceed. I think a different course of action that I would have chosen would be to sit and chat with them as a class, just hanging out bringing them into their cognitive mind and creating a nonthreatening non-judgmental environment.
I’ve read through additional comments and processed this concept, and I keep coming back to the question of colleagues and superiors. I work in a very supportive environment, but I think it is irresponsible to ignore the rest of our responsibilities around writing/reporting/billing around scenarios like this. I feel pretty confident in my ability to use a TAP approach and recognize my own contributions to the progression of the interaction. So how do you address this within measures of accountability for the professional? For example, I worked with a girl who was habitually having admissions to crisis units for suicidality. I was on campus when the guidance counselor spotted me and asked if I could meet with her because she was having a hard time. When we met, I pretty quickly assessed that she was exhibiting a traumatic adaptation and her disclosures to the guidance counselor were an attempt to get admitted as an avoidance strategy. But in effectively addressing the client presenting needs, I missed supervision and had to purposely seek out multiple supervisors to explain the situation. Ultimately, my work relationships were restored and I was able to hep this client, but all in all, I had 3 other clients who were impacted by this event. Id love some feedback on how to process and move forward when you – as the provider – are being pulled in many directions as a result of your efforts to honor a trauma-informed perspective. Obviously, re-application of concepts (TAP) is relevant…
This was a great opportunity to practice TAP, thank you. As we often preach that strategies should be practiced when our clients aren’t in a moment of crisis, being triggered, high-anxiety, etc., it was great to have this chance to practice a strategy when I wasn’t also “in the moment.” I think this is a very useful technique, and I appreciate the chance to acknowledge how I am feeling about a situation, no matter what the feeling, and then also acknowledge and appreciate what it is the person on the other end is feeling. I think this is particularly useful as a kind of problem-solving technique, because, if used in real time, in the moment, it gives you a chance to think and perhaps come up with a better way to approach the situation. I have long practiced mindfulness, but not in this kind of way, in the moment. I typically only use it as a recovery, reflection, or self-care practice, but I think it will be very helpful to use it as a strategy and problem-solving method. Thanks again!
I think that TAP is an easy and accessible tool for teachers to use everyday in the classroom. Thank you. Very helpful.
This reminded me of a situation I had just on Saturday with a mandated client who was angry with me over a miscommunication. I was somewhat expecting his reaction so was a bit more prepared, but I find this technique so very useful in keeping calm and centred during more hostile situations. I like how this method really invites you into a shared space between you and the other person rather than take a me vs you approach which almost always ends with hurt and non-productive conflict. The part about this meditation that stuck me the most was “send that person some compassion”. Even though I was already empathize go with them, I immediately felt a physical change when I did that. And I’m certain that this would be translated non-verbally to the client. I really found that helpful…like an offering or gift that helps break tension and build a connection. And I will be using it in the future.
This exercise took me way back to the beginning of my career when I worked in an alternate school setting for boys with high aggression. I was the only staff member who had any training in human services and the boys clearly had extreme behaviors. I had not been exposed to trauma-informed practice at this time and I find it difficult to reflect on the experience as the classroom was often not therapeutic. I have never struggled with remaining calm and not “reacting’ when youth are escalating. However, after listening to your presentations I am wondering if part of this is rooted in my lack of comfort with conflict. Thanks for the food for thought.
Useful technique, especially when situations could escalate very quickly. Thank you!
I think TAP makes sense and I find as an observer when someone else is handling a tricky situation it is plain to see what is required to get the situation back in hand. It is the self awareness bit that rings home, having that space to choose how to respond rather than just reacting from uncomfortable feelings, that is the bit that I feel is most helpful when mastered.
I have recently started a mindfulness/meditation course and my experience is that it can be quite difficult to do, at times. Sometimes I feel I am getting the benefit and other times is can be excruciating to get through 10 minutes. I find when I feel like doing it, I get the benefit, but sometimes to do it on demand is difficult.
I will try this technique again as I didn’t get the benefit of it this time as I didn’t feel like doing the meditation and when I’m not feeling it I can find it difficult to relax and listen to a persons voice as what I probably need in that moment is to switch off and rest or get some sleep. I think knowing this is helpful as I am not put off by the practice but can go with the idea I just need to switch off right now and try it another time with no judgement. I did really like the bell and its vibration.
During this exercise I focused on a recent event that took place in one of my classes that is predominantly high school aged boys. We begin each class with mindfulness. This was early in the year–September. Two boys had difficulty quieting, moved their chairs during the mindfulness time, and were giggly. I moved my body to be barrier between them and the other students hoping that would quiet them. It didn’t. I remember being very frustrated and angry with them at them. As I did this meditation I began to think about mindfulness from their perspective–perhaps quieting their eyes and sitting quietly is uncomfortable and feels unsafe to them. In hindsight, it might have been beneficial for me to speak 1:1 with them and says something like…. “I saw that you are having a hard time with this. What’s up?” And then from there problem solve.
During this exercise I focused on a recent event that took place in one of my classes that is predominantly high school aged boys. We begin each class with mindfulness. Two boys had difficulty quieting, moved their chairs during the mindfulness time, and were giggly. The rest of the class struggled to stay focused. I moved my body to be barrier between them and the other students hoping that would quiet them. I remember being very frustrated and angry with them at them. As I did this meditation I began to think about mindfulness from their perspective–perhaps quieting their eyes and sitting quietly is uncomfortable and feels unsafe to them. In hindsight, it might have been beneficial for me to speak 1:1 with them and says something like…. “I saw that you are having a hard time with this. What’s up?” And then from there problem solve.
I went back to a life skills session that I was having with the young men in the institution that I work. We were on the topic of Decision making and Values Clarification which I felt were very important topics. There was one particular young man who felt it was much more important to be the class clown. I at first ignored him not wanting to give undue attention to his negative behavior but he eventually became very disruptive and it became virtually impossible for me to continue.I remembered becoming very angry and yelled at him and even threatening to have him punished. Practicing this technique has helped me to put in perspective the idea that the child not the behavior was more important. If I had known this technique I would have realized that the adverse childhood experience of him losing his mother to gun violence and him feeling guilty because he felt that he had let her down was the reason for his behavior. He was masking his pain behind his “clownish” demeanor. The TAP technique could be beneficial for me and for my clients.
I appreciate the trauma dimension added to this technique to create perspective and build empathy – while practicing self care. I believe this is a great practice we can add into our Restorative Program to help staff learn to view our students through a trauma informed lens, rather than a label, increasing self awareness.
The vision and memory that I had was of a recent event at a football practice. I’ve been coaching youth football for many years and this year have a group of middle school aged boys. I’ve had most of these boys for the past 6 years so we know each other well and generally our energies are in synch with each other. On this particular occasion, however, the boys were particularly rambuncous at a time where I excepted full focus as we were fixing mistakes on blocking assignments against a defensive front that we knew we would see in the upcoming game, but hadn’t played against so far this year. During this time my anger was mounting as the assistant coaches (I am the head coach) were not engaged and the defensive coaches, rather than give the offense looks that would enable us to practice what I was teaching, kept on throwing wrinkles into the scheme that I knew we wouldn’t see the upcoming week. After repping a play where the blocking scheme broke down, I began to provide correction to two players who had missed their assignments and then proceeded to joke about how they screwed up. As I began to attempt to fix the error one of the players waved me off, turned and walked away, and mumbled something to the effect “what difference does it make anyway.” With that, my hind brain kicked in and I verbally errupted at the boys involved and the team for their lack of focus and commitment to improvement. It really wasn’t just the one play, but a series of events that led to my boiling over, and in hindsight I know I was more frustrated with the other coaches for their lack of involvement in the practice. I’ve been coaching for many years and have always taken pride that I apply a good deal of what I know about positive psychology to my coaching principles. This experience, however, resulted in shame. In the future I am going to practice TAP when such occasions arise. I’v have done things such as TAP in the past, however, without a structured framework for doing so. In addition, I will be more explicit with the other coaches as to what I need from them during times when I could use support in managing group behavior.
This exercise made me think more of my implicit biases and how my reactions to parents’ behaviors of the youth I serve has not been through a trauma informed lens, but my own impatience. I will think of this when I feel myself getting frustrated with them. I also will approach the children differently when I am meeting with them and doing my investigations. Thank you for this. Great insight for me.
Thank you for this practice and for giving a name and an order to what I do as a teacher but also in my personal life (when after facing more challenging episodes I look back, analyse my reactions and the other people’s involved in the situation and try to learn from the whole scenario). It made me go back to a situation I had with a grade 12 student some years ago, when I presented the class to a vídeo for a campaign on raising education and respect towards homossexuality. This kid reacted very bad to the idea of watching the vídeo, he used aggressive language and I did not react as wisely as I wish I had. I felt frustrated and the issue actually messed with that part of me that feels sad or even angered with this kind of prejudices. I was younger back then and yes! TAP would have helped to breathe and communicate so that the students would not have left as he chose to do. His reaction was, I believe, not trauma-based but could have its origin on social and family influences or, possibly, on his personal confrontation with his own sexual identity. But these are just assumptions. Either way, I am sure I could have directed my reaction to avoid reaching the frequency we got in.
I was instantly reminded of a situation that happened last year. I was asked to teach an 8 hour substance use class to probation students on a Saturday. Understandably most of the students were less than happy to be there with me. One student in particular was incredibly rude and kept making remarks about how stupid this class was and how awful of a teacher I was. I did try taking deep breaths and I did acknowledge this student but I was not able to separate myself from the situation and I took his remarks very personally, so much so that I told the probation office I would no longer teach the class. Doing this TAP class helped me realize it was ok that I was angry and I should have taken a moment to realize that this youth was responding out of trauma. I know his trauma history and I was able to visualize being more compassionate towards him. In the moment it’s difficult to take a step back and realize that defiant youth may be responding out a trauma history, but I am working on it!
Throughout this training I have had one particular 6 year old boy in my mind. Although he has been in a supportive environment for a few years now he still is challenged in school settings and becomes quickly defiant and adversarial with teachers. He often will swears at classmates when upset. He has a past history of trauma due to neglect. Throughout this training I could see how his defiant responses are more about wearing the space suit rather than being purposely mean and uncooperative. As his therapist I could see how he has responded well to gratitude, as I have been thanking every time he sits in the waiting room quietly. He used to hide under the tables in the waiting room and act out, but now he doesn’t anymore. I had sat down with him and told him that he was quite capable to sit quietly in the waiting room and he didn’t need to do this anymore, and then I have continued to tell him how much I appreciate him sitting quietly in waiting room. This has worked so far.
Now I need to work with the school in helping them gain ideas in working with him in the classroom. This module was perfect to help me! I think the main point I want to convey to school is helping them understand this child is responding based on his trauma and feeling a need to protect himself based on the lens he sees things through. For example this child does not do well with being told to do things, as he perceives them as demands and threatening. I like the idea of asking him questions instead of reprimanding him and finding opportunities to show child gratitude.
Breath; Acknowledge; Proceed, This exercise made me think more of this concept rather than of a particular situation for which it would have been beneficial when it started. In my line of work a do a lot of meditations. Sometimes one party agree to mediate the situation and the other don’t since it is in the context of gang rivalry, the police would bring the parties to the table whether they desire or not. So for most times it is a lot to break through, for me it is frustrating; i get nervous, feeling I have to dig deep down for skills in the moment. However, one case of recent came to mind, it got so explosive that I had to remove one of the youths from the mediation group. In a one on one, I did just that TAP; without knowing it. It worked, it works, when he and I returned to the group, it was about him and them and not what I was feeling, he became a partner in the solution to the conflict.
I sat through the practice exercise. I don’t have a personal experience that I have used any of these techniques with but I think they could be helpful to students or youth that are have some type of behavior altering experience or anxiety.
When I bell rang and i had to think about a situation, i was having a difficult time choosing one. I use to facilitate life skills sessions with girls who endured various types of trauma. I remembered on girl in particular who use to challenge me a lot in the sessions and was very resistant. She never wanted to participate and would disrupt the class to get the other girls attention from what was being discussed.
There was a day when she was very rude and i got so angry but had to quickly remind myself of my role so i took some deep breaths and i task the class with an activity and asked the girl to step outside so that i can speak with her. She had refused but i went ahead which allowed me more time to deep breath and calm myself. So by the time she arrived outside i was in control of myself and i was able to speak with her-sharing my concerns and also asking her to share why she did not want to participate and was being difficult.
I also learned that day that the more she was able to pick up on my emotions (anger, anxiety, frustration) the more she disrupted the class. However, whenever i was able to keep my emotions under control and practice being self aware when the emotions would surface, the less reaction i would get from her.
TAP is definitely a exercise that i plan on using in future encounters with clients, staff, parent…etc
I was able to examine self and keep calm by doing the deep breathing. Being self aware is very important when working with youths, children,families who have endured trauma.
I’ve had many experiences that I could have responded better in. In more recent times I have had my own anxiety triggered by young people’s protective behaviours. Taking a breath and acknowledging my own feelings and thoughts is a really centring practice. Giving compassion away to the young person and even giving compassion to myself is so helpful right before I begin to engage. I need to remember that I am only human, and so are the young people. But we can be better together when we are kind, compassionate and patient with each other.
While doing the exercise I recalled facilitating a Life Skills class at a High School. The class was mandatory for students who were on the verge of being expelled because of their behaviour. It was in the evening after school and most of them understandably did not want to be there. There was this one student who was particularly disruptive. He would shout out random phrases while the other students were trying to present. I first decided to ignore him, not wanting him to have the pleasure of my attention during his negative behavior. However, it came to a point where I was no longer able to ignore as he distracted the other students in the class. At that time I remember “snapping” at him as my emotions got the better of me. I knew that I should have handled it differently. If I had known the TAP tecqnique then it would have made a world of difference. In the future I would definitely utilize this technique both on my students and on myself.
I’m working with a resistant group of teens in a mindfulness class right now. During this guided meditation, one girl came to mind who has been talking pretty much non-stop through each class, rolling eyes, and not actually trying the practices. Just last week I could feel myself getting triggered by her — particularly after asking multiple times for the talking to stop, checking in with her corner of the room, and trying different strategies to switch up the energy in the room. After class last week, I asked her if perhaps we could just try sitting in different seats next time and not next to the people we’re most tempted to talk to. She was a little gruff, blaming the girl next to her.
Before class today, I did this practice on my own, imagining the talkative, eye-rolling girl, and really tuned into my inner experience. Surprisingly, an image of me getting angry and sending her out of the room popped into my head! I’ve never don’t that before and it would be really out of character for me — but it’s also very telling because she’s activating something pretty deep in me. I stayed with the imagery and then gave it a different ending in my mind, with me remembering that her behavior could be a self-protection mechanism, and tapping into more patience and understanding.
Today, when the girls arrived, I asked them to sit apart. They were pretty mellow about it. The most resistant girl still chatted with the person next to her during class — but not as much. I began the class by just acknowledging that there’s some resistance in the room and that that’s okay/that resistance can be a great teacher. We actually had our best class today — with everyone doing the practices, including the resistant girl.
I came back to this assignment tonight to listen to it again. As I was imagining my students, I realized a few things — mainly that my concern has been for one particular girl in this corner who I know lost her house to the fires — and that I’ve been frustrated with the other girl for distracting her from what I hope might be helpful for her during this difficult time… and that it has not occurred to me that perhaps the eye-rolling girl lost her house too… and that even if she did not, she’s still been exposed to a devastating natural disaster and that this could be her way of protecting herself from difficult emotions, intrusive thoughts, etc.
I also realized that the entire class could be in a similar space. School was closed for two weeks as the fires burned though our community. Of course everyone is tired, having a hard time engaging, resistant, and just overall kind of spacey.
It’s funny because I am taking this class so that I’ll have more skills for working with trauma in the wake of these fires — and yet it didn’t occur to me that the lack of engagement, sleepiness, and resistance I am seeing could actually be their trauma adaptations.
Thank you for giving me the space to process this!
Thank you for the opportunity to practice the TAP strategy. I connected with the method immediately as a way to engage the “scientist mind” required for Functional Behaviour Analysis. Remembering that all behaviour is communication can be very difficult as you work to establish rapport and instructional control with youth, particularly if you don’t feel safe. I find it very difficult to suspend my emotions and desires to constantly be achieving with each student. Conflict affects me viscerally and contributes to my feelings of burnout and lack of efficacy. I need strategies to observe these incidents more objectively with compassion. I think then I will be better able to understand the message in the behaviour and save more energy for accessing my best thinking. I will certainly try to employ TAP in the moment in my daily practice.
Doing this TAP exercise was good. It took me back when I have about 8 or 10 children in my group . it was a sunny day so I took them outside under a big tree just to relax but one of the boys began being disruptive he climb up the tree and started to stone the other children with seed from the tree. I told him to stop doing that and come down from the tree but he refuse and continue stoning the rest of the group and that make the rest get upset too and everything went out of control. I was very angry with him,so I got the group back together and took them back inside and he still stay up in the tree for a while before he came down. TAP let me understand now that his behavior could be the result of ACE and what I could have done in the moment as to be compassionate and choosing a intervention to help him. I see now why it is very important to have self management and being self awareness and mindfulness is great to practices so that we don’t do more harm than good when helping these youth.
I always go back to my first student teaching experience in a school where I lost control and yelled at a young boy. I always remember the look in his eye, that there was some type of victory that I had lost control, that it was the behavior he was expecting and comfortable with. That has always stuck with me
I like to think I have learned a lot and that I don’t lose my temper or snap at students . I work with a small group of 4th grade boys-the toughest of the toughest and I am well aware of my frustration and lack of sense of control when a few kids start to be disruptive and the whole situation falls apart.
I think the reminder to appreciate how the kids protect themselves is so important!
(And I stated reading The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield on the recommendation from the lecture and am finding it just amazing!
This exercise brings up a group situation I have on a weekly basis. I facilitate a DBT/emotional regulation skills group for our adolescents in a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility weekly. This particular group, about 16 youth, have a difficult time focusing and not being disruptive. Doing this exercise I realized I use the TAP method in the moment every week. I use it to help control my frustrations and determine the best way to get them engaged so they can learn skills. This last group I was not irritated at all, but found their behaviors humorous. This was partly due to the fact they all were in good moods.
While doing this exercise in my mind is was much more in control of myself, giving more of a sense of peace in the challenging situation that I recalled. It was helpful to practice this technique before I use it in a live situation.
Using TAP made me realize it will help me gain more compassion. The particular client I was thinking of has been so adversarial and pointing the finger at everyone else including me, that I realized TAP is a good tool to help me show more compassion. This client currently lives in a traumatic environment which the client cannot leave. The client has also learned behaviors due to the environment the client lives in. It has been one of the toughest clients I have had, as this client resists making any change or showing effort. TAP will help me keep centered and not get up in the whirlwind the client creates trying to start arguments and conflicts.
TAP reminds me to show up for myself, as I show up for others. Sometimes I lose sleep thinking about a student who I didn’t respond to skillfully or who is getting under my skin in a particular way. Taking the breathe, checking in with self, remembering that they come from their own trauma, and then choosing a way to proceed, helps.
One time in my career when I believed that TAP would be vital to working with traumatized children was about 7 years ago when the life skills program SCAIS was initiated in 2011. My first group was a mixture of children who were of different ages and orientation. My initial approach was one of me setting the norms and setting discipline as the facilitator of the group my authority will be overridden. I found many challenges as my approach was very forceful and authoritative as a result the group members were not as cooperative and some were quiet. I did not realize that I was aggravating the members and was not reaching out. Had I known about Tap my initial experience would have been different.
A time that came up for me was a time I walked into the art room at the non-public school I work at. One of my clients was working on some art with other peers in the room and I sat down to join them as I sometimes do. This youth immediately shot some disrespectful comment about me coming into the room, something like “oh no, why are you in here.” I ignored it and continued on with my intention of making some art with the youth in the room. Throughout the 20-30 mins I was in there, this youth repeatedly made some direct and indirect rude comments toward and about me. Doing the TAP exercise, I took a breath, and noticed I was feeling angry (rageful even), rejected, and hurt. I acknowledged my pain, and I acknowledged his behavior as a form of defense and a potential reaction to past trauma. This gave me some space and compassion and I was able to take my time in responding to him. I imagined myself calmly responding to him with a comment such as “I notice you’re making repeated comments about me that feel hurtful. It makes me wonder why you feel need to make those comments. I hope you know I would never do anything to hurt or disrespect you, and if you feel any differently about that, I hope you can feel comfortable enough to talk to me about it.”
I was able to think of a particular event during this exercise initially before I was entering sleep mode during the exercise. Nonetheless, I was thinking of a situation whereby I was cursed out grossly by one of our past student. He was using a lot of obscene languages referencing to me as he vented blatantly. I must say that I was using TAP technique in this instance without even knowing it. As this occurred, I watched my student without saying anything to him to infuse the situation further. I indeed breathed in several times during this incident to maintain my calm composure. I felt offended, uncomfortable and disrespected however the breathing in and out made me kept calm without even responding. I was thinking that he was triggered and as a result he had to response in this manner which was his defensive mechanism. The Proceed part of it was when I responded to him in a none-resistance fashion very calmly after he vented as I saw him going into a tension reduction mode whereby I asked him if we can discuss about the situation. My student was able to open up for communication mannerly at that point. All in all, TAP is definitely useful in moments described above.
Thank you so much for sharing this technique! I was able to think of a situation that happened at one of the schools I work in.
As I readied myself for participating in this exercise, I experienced anxiousness, which is not the norm for me. I was a little distracted by where this anxiousness was coming from but as I allowed for my body to feel whatever sensation it was feeling, I recalled a situation where the resistance I received resulted in me feeling surprised at first and then slightly embarrassed. I remember feeling a little confused at why I was receiving so much resistance and the embarrassment came when another person walked in during the resistant outburst I was received and this third person began to blame me for the other person’s outburst. The third person was protecting the ego of the other person, no doubt, but I felt wrongfully attacked. Using TAP allowed me to replay the scenario and identify my feelings in the moment, acknowledge them and try on a different outcome. I realized I was actually angry at the third person than I ever was with the one who I had the exchange with because I know the first person was triggered, and I could extend compassion towards that. The third person was probably also triggered and became protective as a way to minimize perceived conflict but did not allow for me to work things out on my own. I’m not ready to extend compassion for that third person yet. However, I can see the benefit of using TAP in my daily practice.
During the exercise, I found a few incidents resurfacing. I was able to isolate one of which, at the time, was very disturbing to say the least. My client was very aggressive and threatened my life. I was a relatively new social worker at the time and hadn’t much experience. Although I was very uncomfortable, in that moment, I recalled a pass lecturer sharing a similar incident which occurred to him while he was interning. I was able to use his experience as a guide through the situation. I reminded myself that it was most important to kept calm and not further escalate the situation. I kept eye contact, only spoke in a low engaging tone and focused on the clients messages she was trying to communicate through her rant/venting/aggression. I was able to differentiate between her wanting to hurt me and the real reason she was upset, her children’s removal. I don’t know if she wore out herself or whatever I was doing was helping her calm down, but she eventually was able to engage in a conversation where intervention could have been discussed and the threat was apparently deflated. TAP is a very useful technique and from reading my colleagues discussions, it could be used across practices/fields. Thanks
I went back to a couple years when I was teaching Informational Technology at a Youth Center for dropouts and they were being very disrespectful and distracting when I was trying to teach. Back then I felt very uneasy and annoyed by their behavior. At that point I wanted to scream at them as I was very confused as to why the students was so defiant. I believe this is a very useful technique and I am sure I will be able to use the TAP technique when I am faced with another situation as such.
It is a good one. Reminds me of STOP technique and RAIN technique.
Yes, I think this technique will be very useful to me in my youth groups. It feels like I have been utilizing a similar approach myself without realizing it had a name. Certainly, for me, remembering that the young people are usually acting out as a result of their trauma always helps me manage my reactions to their behaviour. Now, I find they are telling me about how their teachers or other adults speak to them (demanding and aggressive tone) and this is now usually the cause of their outbursts. So it is one thing to self-manage ourselves around the young people but now we are trying to figure out how to help them cope when other people trigger them and we aren’t there.
I thought of a student who I am currently working with that has major attitude and does not do any work in class. Teacher say she is hot/cold where some days she does very well and others she does nothing. She has an attitude and is constantly rolling her eyes, ‘huffing and puffing’, saying things like “are we done yet?” She is failing all of her classes and gives the impression that she doesn’t care. I find myself getting very frustrated, annoyed, angry, and irritated when dealing with her. My body and muscles tense up and I get ‘hot’ internally. Unfortunately, I have not always responded to her in the most appropriate tone or verbal response. I think she is used to people giving up on her (including her parents). I don’t know a lot about her background but I get the impression she has had a lot of neglect and maybe even verbal abuse. She doesn’t appear to have a lot of friends, or has poor choice in friends. I find myself not even wanting to deal with her. I hope this will help me refocus, calm down, and not respond in an inappropriate, confrontational manner.
Yes, i was able to think of a situation where a student in my mindfulness class became “disruptive”. With the group of teens that i have worked with this isn’t typical to the degree that it happened in this example. Yes, TAP is beneficial and i have used similar techniques in situations like this.
This activity reminded me of the first time I ran a group for 7th and 8th grade boys who were placed in an onsite transition program for behavior issues. In order for students in this program to transition back to their regular classes, they had to successfully complete the transition program. I remember feeling very nervous and anxious about running the group because I had been warned by the transition teacher about how disruptive and out of control the students were. At the same time, I felt confident I could deliver the content with minimal disruption because I knew a few of the students in the program. When I started teaching, the students started to get rowdy and would not follow my directions. Everything that I had planned and envisioned in my head did not go as planned or thought and I found myself scrambling to gain control of the class. If I would have known about TAP, I would have used it back then to reset myself emotionally so I could proceed with the group.
Were you able to think of a particular situation? What was it? Do you think TAP or something like it could be beneficial for you in those moments when you feel uncomfortable?
I was able to recall a situation that occurred earlier today with one of my students in therapy. He has very poor frustration tolerance for working on his IEP goals especially during an activity in which he is not very proficient. He will often try to slam objects in front of him, say the activity is stupid, or becomes defiant and resistant to participating in the activity altogether. TAP would be highly beneficial for me to use in the moment as I find my anxiety building as well as my frustration. I do try to remind myself that he has had trauma in the past and this behavior is an adaptive mechanism when I am working with him and that often helps. However, reminding myself to take a breath before I proceed and respond to him I think would help even more so. I have found myself in my therapy trying to reinforce positive behavior in even some of my toughest students and have seen a difference but this exercise reminded me even to do it during times when I myself am most frustrated.
Going through this exercise I can recall by first internship where I was a life skills teacher at all girls school. I remember being young 2 years older that most of my student and having problem with them respecting me and the rules of the classroom. The TAP helped me look back and see what I did to earn their respect and to look back at environment and where these girls came from that attributed to their behavior. I can look back and see how I dealt with he situation and what I could have done differently.
I was brought back to a moment where a female student of mine was angry at a request I had made. She didn’t want to do what was asked (I don’t remember what it was originally) . The situation escalated quickly and she got loud and began yelling at me, eventually getting up and in my face. I calmly stated that she wasn’t able to hear me right now and that was ok, but I was going to have to ask her to leave for the day. I was able to break the standoff safely and guide her towards the door and eventually to the office, all the while she continued to yell at me. When we arrived at the office, my supervisor had heard us coming and was able to jump in and support us in de-escalation.
In the meditation, I could feel my adrenaline rise as it did that day. I remembered handling it as best I could, keeping an even tone and gently guiding my student away from the rest of the class.
Very helpful technique and something I will use more frequently in my practice
This reflective exercise took me to a time when I was very ‘green’ in my job. I had visited the home to do a removal of 2 young girls, because they were being physically abused by their mother. Although, I was accompanied by 2 Police Officers, I still felt this was a daunting task. The mother was very uncooperative and hostile towards us. When I told her I was the Social Worker and the reason for my visit, she became visibly angry and took the girls in a room to pack their belongs. We heard her screaming and one of the little girls crying, I immediately entered the room and the 2 officers as well. She was beating the children. I became immediately angry but I can remember telling her as calmly as I could that what she was doing was only making matters worse. I also told her that I would not hesitate to send her to jail if she did not cooperate with us. I believe because I did not shout and my tone was neutral she was able to register that I was serious and not fighting back with her. I told her if she cooperated she would have the opportunity to reunite with her children and the department would be willing to help her because our Ministry’s goal is family conservation. Although, I did not know it at the time, I think I did use TAP to some degree in this situation.
Didn’t have to go back to far…yesterday. Teaching a yoga class in a 6th grade inclusion class. One of the boys called it torture. I addressed that – kind of feeling fine about it. Maybe just a slight bit defensive and then went on to teach why we have to stay active and move. We did some yoga poses and I tried to make it relevant to them. In hindsight, I don’t think that boy got anything from my conversation with the class. I think for him it was just torture no matter how it played out. I wonder if he felt put n the spot by me addressing his comment. Maybe I should have pretended I didn’t hear it….
Through this exercise I was able to recall an occasion when I was faced with great opposition from one student who was refusing to participate in the mindfulness class. I was able to recall how anxious, embarrassed and tense I was during the situation. However it also made me realize as green as I was, I did used the TAP technique. It was effective because the student eventually calmed down and did the activity without extra coaxing.
I was able to reflect on a time when I felt I was having a power struggle with a young person. My anxiety was heightening just remember the anxiety, my chest was heavy as though I was being smothered. Recognizing in this moment I viewed that person from a different mind set. Using TAP helped reduce the sensations of relaxing and breathing.
TAP is an excellent reminder to take that extra moment to respond in stressful situations. The information is practical and applicable to use with adults as well that have experienced trauma, as well as young people. Thanks for a simple explanation and practical examples, I look forward to practicing in the future.
Thank you for sharing this much-needed technique. Several different students came to mind while completing this exercise. Focusing on my own mindfulness needs further exploration and improvements. The main thing I kept thinking about during this time is how does one complete these steps when multiple students in every area of the classroom are tempting me with misbehavior. If I have 25 students in one class and one says “this is stupid,” while another adds “I don’t have time for this sh*t” and two other groups are holding private conversations in the back two corners. In a classroom with so much disruptive behavior, I find it difficult to handle it and be the person I need to be. This was during one of my first years teaching and things have gotten better. I hope the next unit and the agreements mentioned will help all teachers, especially the new ones. I feel all teachers need to experience this course to help handle our traumatized students. I hope I’m able to share it.
Thanks again, Sam, for the wonderful knowledge you continue to share
A little over a year ago I was invited to participate in a Wellness Day with a group of students from a local continuation school. When I work with teens, I bring in a blend of embodiment practices like martial arts and movement, with mindfulness and storytelling. I immediately saw the student in the class that was going to be the most resistant. He wouldn’t look at me directly, but kept talking to his friend loudly. When he did look towards me it was with a sense of defiance. So, I started the class by acknowledging and complimenting some of the teens there on their style and their attentiveness. I asked questions about who they are and what they are interested in. Slowly, this group grew to include more individuals in the class and collectively they started regulating their peers. When the defiant young man caught onto this he started paying a little more attention. I introduced myself and talked a little bit about my martial arts background. He dismissed it quickly, “Whatever, I used to box…” So I acknowledged him “You used to box? That’s awesome! Help me teach the class some combinations.” He was dismissive and reluctant at first, so I taught a few boxing basics. This caught his attention. I invited his classmates to do the boxing drill with me, and soon they were giggling and the energy in the room became more positive. The next time I demonstrated something I invited him to help me demonstrate. This time there wasn’t any resistance. What helped me in this situation is exactly what is laid out in the TAP technique. I was able to receive this students’ defiant behavior because I knew it wasn’t personal. Connecting with other students in the group by acknowledging them and giving them positive reinforcement also made me unthreatening, so I wasn’t an oppositional figure to them and by extension, to him. When I saw the opportunity I extended the positive reinforcement to him.
A few months later I was asked to work with a young man that other service providers had had trouble with. No one seemed to feel comfortable working with him. I was given the address of his school and the time to meet with him. When I showed up, it was the young man from the Wellness Day. He immediately recognized me and we were quickly able to establish rapport and develop a mentor/mentee relationship. A lot of times what helps me in these situations is knowing that I was that kid at a point in my life. I suppose that is true for many of us doing this work. I think this TAP technique is an excellent resource to help move through these types of challenging situations.
I thought of several different situations I’ve encountered. TAP is a very useful exercise in reminding myself in the moment to connect someone’s behavior to possible trauma/traumatic adaptation, rather than realizing it later, and helping me to remain calm in highly stressful situations.
Thank you for providing this exercise, Sam. This is such a helpful technique to use.
Thank you for this exercise. I thought of one situation I had with two little guys (3rd grade) who couldn’t settle. The one little guy kept grabbing on to the other and trying to keep him from paying attention (or so I interpreted). As I looked back, I kind of noticed the difference in our levels- I was standing up above and they were all sitting crossed leg on the floor. I sat with that for a while and thought maybe that disparity could have been a little hard for some kids. I remember being frustrated because I didn’t want to lose control of the class. I was trying to show this classroom teacher that mindfulness could fit easily into her day. I wasn’t really frustrated with the kids so much as I was worried that she would think mindfulness was a waste and blow off further lessons. I do remember asking the kids to hold on to their knees. Steady themselves like a mountain. Looking back in this visualization- I remember thinking, maybe this little guy is a little uncomfortable and wants to hold on to someone- maybe that’s why he keeps grabbing his buddy. (view). Giving them something to do with their hands seemed to work this time. I liked this exercise, because it gave a somewhat scientific narrative to what happened- I did take a breath, I did acknowledge how I (ego) was feeling about losing control of the class in front of the classroom teacher, I did reframe the behavior as a form of protection rather than just defiance, and I did proceed through the lesson with a new technique I use again and again now.
I thought of a time when a client at our drop-in center was struggling with following some of the basic requirements of our program, and arguing with us about whether or not he needed to modify his behavior. Sometimes, this type of interaction brings on quite a lot of stress, and so it would be really helpful to be aware of the trauma in the client’s life and allow that to contextualize the way I address them.
I was thinking about a time when I facilitated a Restorative Chat with a whole class that witnessed a fight within the classroom. The major aggressor was a 5th grade female student. During the chat I was asking others what happened. As others were talking about what happened during the event this student became aggressive and was threatening other students. This student has bullying behaviors and intimidates others frequently. I became very upset and angry and I yelled at her and told her to go to the office. I later spoke to that student regarding the incident and was upset at myself for losing control over the situation. TAP would have been a huge benefit in this situation. If I would have stopped and allowed myself to take a breath and acknowledge my frustrations I could have handled the situation better.
i’ve practiced daily meditation on/off for 25 years. periods where i practice regularly t.a.p. comes naturally. there’s a space and grace in the stimulus-response mechanism.
when i am not practicing regularly i am more prone to react in unskillful ways.
sometimes i’ve found that if i talk honestly with young people, explaining my perspective, they understand.
a few years ago i brought university graduate students and professional experts to a high school in my first nation to discuss and demonstrate indigenous gardening practices as a kick off to re-starting the high school garden. during the first demonstration some of the kids stood back and began talking loudly amongst themselves thereby distracting from the demonstration. the facilitator was doing his best to carry on. earlier i had witnessed open hostility both ways between the students and some of the staff. every request to a student was met with outward defiance and sometimes derision. yet some of the staff were just as outwardly hostile to the students. i felt bad for both.
however, i was upset that these kids were disrespecting the facilitator. respect is a sacred teaching in indigenous cultures and these kids knew better.
with that understanding i approached the loud talkers and calmly but strongly told them i understood if they didn’t want to listen or partake in the workshop/training but that these people had traveled a long way and were giving of their time to do this for the students. if they didn’t want to listen, fine but they needed to find another place to have their conversation so it wasn’t disrupting our workshop.
i saw surprise and respect flash quickly on their faces. some of the talkers moved off while others stayed around but remained silent. they seemed to be listening suddenly interested.
this was a time when i felt that regular meditation/mindfullness practice provided grace.
there are many other times i’ve reacted in very ungraceful ways. thanks for the reminder.
This exercise took me back to a time when I was doing pre-conferencing with four girls. I introduced the process and used a talking piece to teach the girls to take turns telling their stories. One of the girls starting talking on and on about anything and everything regarding the issue. I politely reminded her that we were going to use the talking piece to take turns and that her voice will be heard. She proceeded to interrupt the others while they were talking. I was feeling frustrated and disrespected in the process because I’d been very calm and polite to her. After my affective statements did not presently work on addressing her behavior, I took a few deep breaths, paused, and simply asked her, “What is going on?” She went on to tell us that at her house, with her father, no matter the situation, he will not listen to her or let her speak when the chance is afforded. Whenever, she has a chance, and I’m guessing in this case it felt safer, she wanted to let loose and speak her mind. Well, I acknowledged her situation, asked about the context of the current situation with everybody’s voice being heard, and, with permission from rest of her friends, proceeded to let her voice be heard first to get that urge out. If I could go back, I would of followed up with her one on one to probe deeper to the root of her trauma and provide the support where needed. However, I will see her again and will check in.
I immediately thought of a tough moment I had during a therapy session with a young student, one of my most difficult clients. He had just been defiant and deliberately destructive, and then laughed about it. At the time, I had felt angry, frustrated, and anxious, but was able to respond without escalating the situation further, and even begin to repair. However, in this exercise, I was flooded with love, compassion, and sadness for this child. They had an intense traumatic experience in their past, and by visualizing myself using TAP, I was able to better see their behaviors in context. I was able to visualize communicating that I was there to keep us both safe, to better reflect their feelings, and to empathize. I will most certainly be practicing this more in the future.
I can use this with clients I have already.
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