As a facility social worker, I conduct life skills sessions with the residents of the juvenile facility, which is the first program of the day; and for me early morning sessions result in less disruptive behaviors. Nevertheless, there are days when I would experience a significant amount of disruptions due to events that the residents experience the night before. During the practice assignment, I selected one of those days. It was early January 2017, the lesson was on goal setting and their task was to create their short term plan; during the activity, I had two female residents who were side chatting about an incident that occurred earlier. Both of the girls were speaking loudly and laughing uncontrollably which hindered the others from completely immersing into the activity. As I was reflecting on this experience during the practice assignment, my automatic response was to skip T and proceed to A and P. At that moment I had to refocus and complete the TAP.
I honestly see the benefits of the TAP exercise for my self-management and it is something I do unconsciously at times but I do believe I will need to practice this technique some more especially on days that I feel highly stressed. I will also share this exercise with my other coworkers, especially the teachers of the facility who experience numerous disruptive behaviors throughout their day.
Working with high-risk youth that feel there is no in life can at times get frustrating.
I have been practicing and share with the children I work with an exercise called one deep breath.
I have shown the boys how taking one deep breath gives your brain the time to catch up with your mouth so that you only say what you mean.
It has a lot of the same qualities as the tap technique.
I will now add in the visualization aspects of the tap, and share that with the boys.
I found out the hard way long ago it is best to pause and give yourself a minute instead of just reacting to a situation and making things wores more often then not.
I currently teach Mindfulness and Social emotional Learning in all grade levels in a TK through 8th grade school. We are a school that is based on positive behavior support and currently use positive reinforcement and gratitude as a way to communicate within the classroom setting. I love the acronym TAP and would love to introduce it to my staff as a way of looking beyond behaviors and their own bias’ and self-awareness, I think our whole campus would benefit from widening our lens.
Yes- it is very beneficial. So many people think we have to react/respond immediately when something is happening, or when someone is triggered. But by taking a pause, it begins establishing not only the space needed for myself but also a model for the student. I love the compassion piece, too- this is something I absolutely practice and it has really changed my perspective and perceptions.
I think remembering to use TAP in any kind of situation where you feel yourself getting elevated or to an uncomfortable state would be beneficial. For me, I think the most important part is remembering to take that breath before proceeding with the A and P. It gives you a second to pause before you acknowledge and proceed.
I thought of the time I was teaching mindfulness of breathing for the first time to teenagers in an after-school program. I had no “trauma-informed lens” at that time. There were “gigglers” who disrupted my guided meditation to notice our breaths for one minute. I felt a cascade of emotions (as a novice teacher): surprise, fear, bewilderment, confusion. And contagious amusement! I didn’t intentionally use TAP, but in joining in the laughter and then acknowledging my amusement, I can see some elements of it: clearly taking a breath, reflexively, in laughing; acknowledging my lack of control of the situation and recognizing at a felt-sense level my own “default” conflict-avoidant tendencies;, and, proceeding to give feedback by blurting out that “laughing meditation” is good for us. I do think TAP or something like it is worth my time to cultivate, since the longer I live the less control I have over much of anything. Especially working with youth, it’s also good practice in not taking anything personally!
I haven’t had a situation in which this has happened during a therapy session or group work because I am usually very present and aware of my feelings and reactions so I used a time when I was triggered by unexpected aggression. I was setting up my market stall at a very relaxed market in the country when a woman angrily approached me and said I was too late to set up my stall and began to chastise me without any opportunity for me to speak. My partner and I had rushed to get there on time and I knew I was not late. My partner was extremely stressed at the time and I immediately went into a defensive, aggressive mode to protect him and also my indignation was very high. I was angry, anxious for my partner and very defensive. I argued with her, meeting her aggression head on. I knew it was the wrong thing to do, the wrong battle to fight but I was completely triggered and could not use any of the techniques I had learned to control my anger. It escalated, another person got involved and I was now arguing on two fronts. I could feel myself close to tears and was shaking with anger. It took sometime for me to calm down and the market day was very difficult when usually we had a wonderful time. I feel close to tears as I recall it now. These types of engagements have happened to me in the past and I always regret them after. I KNOW I need to stay present and to breathe but the rage is blinding.
When using this technique today, I could feel compassion for this woman as her behaviour in the past is generally very sporadic, confusing and often aggressive and now I think there may be trauma adaptations present. My awareness is both for her and for my implicit reactions. In my mind, I thanked her for her concern and showed gratitude for her assistance and advice (even if it made no sense). I could see that this would have defused the situation. She may have continued but without my fuel to her fire it would not have escalated and I would not have felt so awful afterwards. TAP can definitely work in such situations. My problem is that when situations occur my reaction is instantaneous and all encumbering that it is only after that I regretfully remember to use such techniques. I guess the more mindfulness I practice the better I will be at catching myself early and going into TAP. I think the anagram is very succinct and easy to remember. I will try it next time…hopefully! Thanks for this!
I first want to say that having the acronym TAP to turn to is so helpful. I knew immediately which memory I was going to go back to for this exercise. It is a reaction I am not proud of. I was one month in to my first job out of grad school, working with youth in a juvenile justice residential treatment center. I pulled my client out of the gym to briefly speak to him. As we stood outside of the gym a boy threw a basketball at the door window several times attempting to intimidate my client. I began to feel the anger rise in me. I felt like a mama bear ready to protect her cub. I confronted the boy in an aggressive manner, in which I instantly regretted. It still bothers me today that I was so reactive. I learned from it, but I still wish I could apologize to that young man (he left the facility soon after the incident). If I knew TAP in that moment, it would have been a completely different interaction. I would have taken that boy aside and gently explained to him why his behavior was inappropriate and possibly triggering for my client and possibly others in the gym; and also would have gently asked him what was going on with him in the moment to lead him to do what he did; and attempted to build some rapport.
Through mindfulness practice and knowledge of trauma informed care, I have minimized being reactive, however, now having the word “TAP” in my toolbox makes things even better!
The situation that came to mind is an adult that I’m working with that often times lives and acts in a child-like state. She has a trauma history as well. During my last session with her I felt myself getting frustrated with her lack of follow through. I was able to acknowledge myself getting frustrated as I felt my heart rate increasing and body tensing up. Once I notice it I was able to breathe through it and remind myself that it’s not my responsibility to make her follow through. I can only guide her, give her the techniques and coping skills and meet her where she is at. Although, I was able to use the TAP exercises during this time, I helps to have an acronym to remember and guide me through those difficult sessions and situations. I have practiced some mindfulness and taken classes but new tools are also great to have.
During my daily practice as a therapist with both youth and adults I use many mindfulness and mediation activities and experiences for many different reasons in session. I have never done the T.A.P method specifically but I really like the way it draws upon the use of empathy for the individual to help the client or you to choose what they would like to do next with the stressful individual. I will like to use this specifically with youth because many youth struggle with interpersonal relationships and have a harder time understanding empathy on their own.
I also would like to use this T.A.P method as a way of self care in-between difficult clients to draw up and upon my own source of empathy for clients and individuals in my personal life. This T.A.P skill will be useful in both my professional and personal life.
I haven’t had a situation like this with youth yet, but can think of plenty of times when adult groups have been disrupted. I used to do court mandated anger management and relapse prevention groups. Although I don’t remember any aggressive behavior in groups, side conversations were typical in most groups. I’m lucky that just asking group members to turn their attention back to our topic worked most of the time since it wouldn’t have known to see behaviors through a trauma focus lens – I probably would’ve made the situation worse! I love the idea of using TAP to get myself composed if I get triggered. Recognizing the protective nature of the behavior completely changes how I would respond.
I think this is an easy to remember method that can be used with clients but more so in a group setting or where you have 2 or more clients perhaps in a family session. It really allows you to become self aware, stop and think before proceeding to your next approach. It can also help me to figure out a way to handle the situation in a better way. I enjoyed learning this method!
I teach mindfulness techniques and breath work to my clients as a means for them to fold these into their daily life. I like that this TAP technique is presented as a tool that can be used in a triggering or uncomfortable moment both for myself and for my clients. The brevity of it allows it to be accessible in the moment for any one, reminding us to take a pause before reacting. The other element that is important in this tool is the ability to acknowledge where you are in your reaction and validating that but not taking it with you into your proceeding response.
This technique is applicable and I can see it being beneficial. I went back to a situation during a Life Skills period ‘Thinking For a Change : Social Skills a Identifying Risk’. One participant was not engaging in the session, he was sitting, his head on the desk, did not join for the group activity nor the role play. Since he was not causing any disturbance, I did not forced him to participate. However, the other youths were not understanding of him not doing anything and they made remarks toward the young man. It was then situation turned around as the youth became very disruptive, using obscene language and wanted to fight. Looking Back I now realize that TAP approach would surely bring a better outcome. I did not take a deep breathe, I know was irritated but never did focused on my feelings and I definitely never acknowledge the behavior as protection for himself. TAP is a plus and will apply for better outcome.
I can definitely see how TAP can be helpful. I found myself at first being triggered by the event I chose. It took place over 20 years ago and yet my body began to tighten. TAP could have come in handy then. Breathing before one takes action, gives time to really scan the bodies. This can allow one to be proactive rather than reactive.
I use to work at the Boys and Girls Club and I had a large second grade group (32 kids). Each day brought in different issues, but I remember one time the group was going through the daily routine and it was time for programming, well today one child didn’t want to do anything and was purposely disrupting the class constantly trying to get everyone’s attention and ignoring my words on asking him to stop and be respectful. Each time I would ask him to stop it would constantly get worse. Then he and his best friend in the group started acting out together trying to get a bigger rise out of me. That was when I realized I was getting extremely upset and frustrated. I acknowledged how I was feeling and decided to take a step back, breathe, calm myself down. So I sat and was quiet. Then, after waiting a few minutes and concentrating on bringing myself back, I let the group play on the playground and then asked the two that were causing the problems to walk with me for a little bit. That’s when we had more of a one on one conversation and talked about respect and how it’s now okay to do those certain things during class and how is was taking away from the other students as well. We can up with a plan and if they continued to go a certain amount of days without disrupting they would earn something or a special privilege. It worked. And not really realizing it but I was using TAP and it really worked. Working with that many kids you’re bound to get frustrated every know and again and I’ve used TAP many many times and I believe it truly works and was definitely beneficial.
I was teaching a family class for parents of children with various mental health conditions, and one mom had come up with an idea for dealing with another person’s child that in my opinion would not work at all. I made a comment about the idea that triggered the first mom to where I could see she was at the point of losing it in the class. At the time I figured out quite quickly that she could escalate and cause a very uncomfortable scene and I acknowledged her and sort of squirmed out of my response to calm her down. But if I had recognized that she was in a place of trauma in the first place I would have used positive reinforcement for her comments and the situation would have been totally avoided. I have had to develop my own TAP methods for dealing with my own son when he is triggered because you sure can’t ‘Shout it out’! It never works. I run support groups and present to teachers and parents a lot and always give the advice to breathe before responding, and be nice! TAP puts it in a more defined,logical manner.
I’m very much enjoying the coursework and the exercises. This is my first explicit course in trauma despite currently being in a graduate school program. The information is already influencing my work in groups (I just had my first session with the first group I’m co-leading with 35 high schoolers!) and I’m so grateful for the insight and techniques! TAP reminds me a lot of the techniques described in Tim Desmond’s “Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy” and I see a lot of value in practicing and eventually using these techniques with clients though I haven’t yet had the experience to use them with my own clients. I love the easy handle of the acronym TAP for this process!
TAP is a great way to self regulate! When pulling up my memory for this exercise I felt my heart start racing a little and by taking a breath and beginning to use the TAP method I was able to calm myself, get focused and come up with a resolution. I will be using this method more often and teaching it to staff as a way for them to cope with situations they encounter.
Incorporating the meditation element as a way to help remember and re-create the narrative for the event that came to mind was really helpful. I often will remember incidents that occurred and the incorrect ways I approached them. This technique allowed me to go back, re-work, and explore further details about the situation.
The event that came to mind was a session I had with an eight-year-old male. The little boy came to see me after various behavioral problems at home and at school. He and I were playing a therapeutic game when he became bored and began ripping the cards and stomping on the game pieces. My speech is typically calm and even, especially with my clients. However, in this moment, I became very frustrated. Me telling him that he is not allowed to play this way came out a little to hard and aggressive. In the moment, I remember feeling angry and frustrated because he was breaking something that I had purchased. I thought about the cost, how I was not going to be able to use this game with a client later in the day, and how frustrated I was that I had no control. All of these thoughts and feelings caused me to be more stern with the child than I care to admit. It also changed how I interacted with him in the next session.
I would have benefitted greatly from using the TAP technique in that moment. Taking a moment to ground myself would have allowed to time to think rather than just react. Taking a moment to acknowledge my feelings would have helped me to understand that I was angry because I felt a lack of control and was upset for personal reasons. It would have also allowed me to remember what this little boy has been through, and how my reaction could have been a trigger for him. Taking a moment to do this would have shaped the way I would have proceeded differently.
1)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?
In my dimmed lit quiet study, I sat in my comfortable chair and tuned into my senses.
There was a sense of centering, initially. Almost as if I was preparing for a journey. As I listened to the audio, the voice guided my thoughts to recall (triune brain activation), and my forebrain immediately responded to an instance that I obviously still carry in my body (hindbrain; midbrain). I immediately noticed my muscles tighten in my chest area as I revisited a time I’d spent one-on-one with a student who had been sent to my office for being uncooperative in class.
The student eventually walked out of my office after seven minutes. When he came in, I welcomed him, introduced myself and explained confidentiality, and then to get to know him more- I began asking him questions about his family (how many brothers and sisters), and he cut me off. “why are you asking me questions about my family?!” and then he said, “I don’t want to be here,” as he walked out. I tried to explain why, but it happened so quickly. I remember feeling like I’d done something wrong.
During the exercise I noticed my breathing patterns changed as I imagined the student confronting me- standing up and walking out the door, and during that time I held my breath.
So, I took another deep breath, grounding myself, allowing myself to feel stuck, afraid, and nervous. Acknowledging my own defense mechanisms. With each breath, I felt as if I was releasing. The more I breathed, the more settled I became.
The student effected by ACE’s obviously was triggered when I began asking about his family, and he chose to flee, instead of freeze or fight. I do now understand that it was necessary for him to do what was safe for him at that time. And for me, at that moment- I too was triggered by his reaction; I was surprised, nervous, afraid, and I froze.
During this exercise, TAP definitely allowed me to process. I will continue to practice TAP. Thanks for sharing this simple effective implicative self-monitoring format which I will utilize.
TAP is a great tool to use when put in situations that provoke anxiety, anger, fear or frustration. I remember a time I was in a situation with a client who was denying something that I knew to be true. I had found an illicit substance in the clients room during a room search, and was discharging her from the housing program due to this being a violation of our program contract. The client continued to deny that the contraband was hers (we had definite proof that it was) and started to act angry and upset.
To some extent I did utilize a similar technique to TAP. Instead of entertaining the client’s manipulations, I continued to repeat the same phrase, something along the lines of “you violated the rules of our program, put other clients in danger, and you are being discharged from housing”. I often am caught off-guard by a client’s behavior and do not go to this technique right away, sometimes it takes a few minutes of me reacting to everything they say individually, and entertaining claims I know to be untrue. I believe this is due to a character flaw of my own, where I do not want to upset others or make them angry at me. So I often try to rationalize with a client at first, even if it’s getting no where.
I think TAP is a very useful tool and would have been useful for me to use in that situation, because while taking that pause (T), I would be able to Acknowledge that I was actually feeling uncomfortable, and able to decide that the best course of action is to be consistent and not entertain the claims that client was making. I would then Proceed forward by telling the client off the bat what it look me 5 minutes to be able to tell her. I often think if I “ease into” things with clients, that it may lessen the blow, but in reality the best way to handle situations like that is to be consistent and straight-forward, of course while having an open mind, but to not waver in what I am telling the client and the decision I am making.
I find I am great at doing this automatically when I’m working in a clinical setting with a client. The times I need to use this more often are when I’m teaching doctorate level students, or parents of the children I am working with. Perceived conflict still triggers my own flight or freeze response, and when neither are possible I will fight. I’ve avoided responding to parents, and I’ve responded in unskilled ways to students (fight). I find it especially difficult with my doctorate level students, as I expect a certain level of responsibility from them and when it’s not present I have trouble hiding my frustration.
TAP is something that I have used for as long as I have worked in this field, and probably long before that. I never realized it had an identified name and process, but it’s what happens during almost any crisis or escalated event that I can remember. Even during those times that require quick reactions for the safety of everyone, I can think back in my mind to what actually happens internally, even if at the time it didn’t appear as though there would have been time to engage in the steps we just learned about. TAP is a great tool that everyone working in this field should learn.
I used a situation that happened about a week ago at work. We had a particularly disruptive client that walked out of group and had gotten very aggressive in the seating area outside of the group rooms. Several other clients and staff members were present, and it took several of us working together to calm her down.
At the time, I started to react, caught myself responding to her aggression with aggression, and had to take a step back from the situation for a few minutes. When I came back, I was able to stay much calmer and have a more productive interaction with her.
I think this technique would have enabled me to get to that calm and productive place much more quickly. All of my interactions with clients seem to go better if I can maintain my composure.
It struck me that I had been using TAP for a long time without actually calling it that. I thought of a situation a long time ago where when faced with a very aggressive client I responded by unconsciously disengaging, which I learnt to do in childhood. This had the effect of escalating the situation as he sought to get a reaction. Had I known this ten years ago I feel that I would have been much more grounded and effective at de-escalating the situation which might have had a different outcome. It was after this I begun to learn these techniques and I realised just how much more positive all our interactions became as a result.
It was really good to revisit this example I used again to reflect on what I did then and what I would do now and accept where I went wrong in a non judgemental way. I feel that the combination of self awareness, mindfulness techniques like TAP and reflective practise should underpin any profession working with vulnerable people.
I could think of multiple situations when I started this exercise. Besides my job for pay working with underserved youth and volunteering in an inner city school, my husband and I have 2 inner city youth that live with us about 75% of the time. We have already raised our children who had very low ACES scores. These two young men have extremely high ACES scores and they are very reactive and very hypervigilant. I had to quickly learn a version of TAP if I was ever going to get anything done because countless hours were wasted fixing situations when I let my own triggered feelings lead in situations. I have learned to take a lot of deep breaths and to name my emotional response to their response and then put that response aside to better engage with them. Nice to know that process has a name!
I do think remembering to take a breath and being mindful of my own emotions in the moment are really beneficial techniques before engaging any charged situations. Most of the young people I mentor and volunteer with have high ACE scores, and react from that place. The point about being inquisitive to engage their cognitive process was a good one. And remembering to ask what the traumatic adaptation could be, and not just what the trauma was is also helpful.
I brought to mind an evening last week when I was telling the group I was facilitating to attempt some meditation. I said we would try it for about one minute. A guy sitting close to me started doing a drum solo on his chair, which is disrespectful, but with certain groups I work with I expect nothing better based on past experience. TAP certainly would have helped, but I think the thing that I learned from this course that would have helped was to ask for rather than demand silence, which is what I did, and although he ended the drum session, I remembered how I said “be quiet”, when I wish I would have said “even if you don’t feel like doing this, please be quiet for a minute or two so the others who want to try it can do so”.
I will try to breathe and be mindful when I’m communicating during my attempts to introduce meditation to my DUI clients!
It’s hard to not be reactive sometimes as I am learning classroom management and dealing with behaviors at the after school program I work at. I think T.A.P. will be very helpful to me in how I approach students. I had an incident yesterday with a student while we were out on a field trip. We ultimately ended up having a good discussion on the ride home but I didn’t know how to intervene or deal with it in the moment. I wish I could have been more effective in my interaction with the student while I was trying to de-direct in an uncomfortable situation. This training has already been very helpful for how my interactions have changed with some of the young men I work with daily and is providing me a better understanding of how to not judge and have preconceived ideas of where anyone is coming from or what they may have possibly experienced.
Thanks Sam. It’s nice to have an acronym to describe a process that’s ingrained in me but not always easy to impart to the teachers and mentors I work with. Slowing down, acknowledging self, change the story, move forward with compassion.
This was a very useful exercise that would have been especially useful for me in 2001 while I was a grad school intern. I was tasked to co-facilitate a boys group (9 -12 years olds) in an after-school program. The usual facilitator had been doing these sessions for a few months already and on the first night that I was to join the sessions, he was called away for a few while and I had to facilitate the group on my own. Well as you might imagine, this did not go very well. As soon as the lead facilitator left (who happened to be male by the way), a few of the boys started acting as if they were in recess. They got out of their seats, some began chasing each other and playing. They did not listen because of course in my most authoritative voice, told them to sit down and stop playing. They simply acted like I was not even there. I felt all sorts of things – I was mad at the boys for being disruptive; I felt disrespected by them; I was embarrassed that this had happened to me and worried that I would make me seem incompetent. Thankfully, the co-facilitator came back after a short while and things settled down.
I think TAP would really have helped me in that situation. Taking that breath would certainly have calmed me down and allowed me to tune in to how I felt and and to calmly focus on what to do next. Thinking back on this situation now through a trauma informed lens, I can understand where those behaviors might have come from with those boys. Applying TAP to the scenario now, I feel much more empathy for the boys, just considering the neighborhood and multi-problem family circumstances that they came from. I would certainly have navigated that situation differently if I were to do it again now using this method. I would have responded from my calm, genuine and caring place rather than reacting off of my emotions, which is probably what these boys were already used to anyway.
Good Stuff!!! Will definitely continue to put this technique into practice. I love the fact that it allows us as practitioners to be much more in-tuned with our selves and to be more self-aware.
I reflected during this exercise on a session with a 15yo female client who despite several previous sessions in which we had engaged effectively, was shut down…lot’s of “I don’t know”…little eye contact…a general not wanting to engage as she had in previous sessions. If given the opportunity to have this session again with her I could use the principle of TAP together with her to be mindful of the “I don’t know’s”, the shutting down and to appreciate these as her protective strategy in that moment, to thank these reactions for taking care of her – and of processing my own confusion and uncertainty to then see where that could take us.
I have been able over the 20+ years I have been practising to develop a keen self-awareness of my bias and reactions, and is something I consider an essential aspect of what I do as a therapist – I can’t do what I do effectively without self-awareness and self-regulation. I believe regular mentoring and peer supervision is useful to this process. Like your experience Sam, I often feel like I’m channelling some psychic energy that helps me learn about and regulate unknown aspects of myself!!
When Im teaching mindfulness to folks in an IOP group (Intensive Outpatient program for substance abuse/addiction), I tend to get some people who tell me they do not want to meditate. However I had a young man recently who ‘pushed my buttons’ so I reacted with sarcasm and became impatient with him. But then, I was able to notice how tense my muscles got and shaky i was inside, so took a few breaths and allowed my frustration to settle a little. I talked to the group about how I was feeling and my reactions. I used my ‘error’ as an example of the curriculum I teach to recognize thoughts and feelings (both in mind and body) and then learn to pause and ride out ‘urge’ without needing to ‘take action.’ I apologized to the guy and ironically the next session he seemed more engaged in trying meditation. Im grateful to my mindfulness practice (and yoga) which helps me be more aware of my reactions and emotions-the hard part is sitting with the discomfort and riding it out gracefully.
TAP is a very beneficial technique that’s is applicable in all spectrum of life. I can see its usefulness in saving time and avoiding a whole lot of confrontations. Personally, the first step of taking deep breaths is key in engaging a youth in a difficult or uncomfortable situation. Participating in this activity has heightened my awareness that when I purposely take deep breaths, I could feel the oxygen flowing through my entire being causing a sense of calm. I find that when I am calm, I can assess my thoughts and emotions easier(helps me decide if I need to take some more breaths).
Reflecting in my daily interaction with difficult clients at work, I could clearly see where TAP will be effective. I have been practicing this technique with clients, however my view of the clients behaviors will definitely be sharpened from a trauma informed lens by understanding that a client’s could be trauma adaptaion. I am definitely eager to share some of this information with other front line staff who are task to mange juvenile behavior.
I always find it difficult to find time to meditate or practice these skills for myself. I always seem to be able to keep myself busy, but I know that I need to take time for my mind to rest. I find the breathing technique to be helpful. Visualizing is always helpful for students, but at times they do not want to go back to those things that affected them. I believe this could be something that I could use with them to help them deal with stress or frustration. I hope to be able to practice this before, during, and/or after dealing with a difficult student or individual.
I thought of a youth that I work with and realize that by using TAP I am in a much better place to assist the youth. It is challenging for me to use the for visualizing, however, the deep breathing has been very helpful.
I thought of a 7th grade student I had a difficult time with a few weeks ago. I saw her class again this past week, and her behavior was OK. While the class was engaged working on their projects, I found myself going through the TAP process mentally replaying what the scenario a few weeks ago could’ve been. It’s a useful plan of action; I like it. Like mindfulness, it’s something that has to be practiced and cultivated.
I think any technique or tool one uses to regulate themselves so they are able to support children and youth using a trauma informed lens is so helpful, whether it be using the TAP tool, other mindfulness techniques or practicing regular self care. I work at a school and deal with many children with mental health challenges, and often find myself starting to feel frustrated, or anxious many times throughout the day because I never seem to get a break. However, I regularly practice deep breathing to help refocus my energy. Also some of the children I support often can not self regulate, so we take breaks together, go for walks around the school and it helps both of us, we are able to refocus ourselves and then when we head back to class we are both in a better space. I also practice some mindfulness with another student, and it is a 5 step sequence, however I always participate in the check in we do together, which I feel has established a great working relationship between us but also allows me to take some time to again, refocus my energy so I don’t feel so much as a nagging parent but as skilled practitioner.
I find this very useful in terms of changing my awareness in the most critical moments. I appreciate the concrete example(s). The situation I reflected on was lacking in compassion on my part and has been bugging me since. I actually worked it out in the exercise.
I was able to think of a female student at my school who is triggered very easily. She was diagnosed with PTSD and has a very difficult time getting through an entire day at school. Last week she was so upset that she ripped down much of what was on the office bulletin board and knocked everything off the counter. This was the most aggressive she has been, but the screaming and lashing out verbally is an almost everyday occurrence. Before taking this class she and I would just butt heads and it made matters worse. This last time, I talked in a very quiet voice, didn’t demand anything and told her I was worried about her. It didn’t stop her outburst, but I felt like I at least didn’t make it worse. I think T.A.P. will be very useful.
The situation I recalled was in an art class where I was a behavioral support person for a student. The teacher called the class to circle the demostration table, and two students(not my assigned student) continued to talk after she gave multiple kind requests for them to stop talking until she was finished with the demo. She even suggested they could step out of the room to finish the conversation rather than disrupt the class. The two students ignored her. Going through the TAPs steps was useful in helping me see my own irritation that I brought into the interaction. These students had been disruptive every day they attended class. One had been sent to the office multiple times from just this class, and ultimately was kicked out of the class. He attends the alternative school now. I intervened out of my feelings of frustration with behavior I saw as disrespectful to a teacher who tried very hard to be respectful of her students, my desire to support the teacher, and my own fear that as a behavioral support person I was EXPECTED to control the situation. I tried just standing nearer to them as a visual reminder to be quiet. That didn’t work. The one student asked “WTF I was doing over” by him. I slowly and quietly explained that I was just a reminder to pay attention so they would know how to do the next project. That got me no response. The teacher suggested they step out of the room, and after counting to 20 in my head so they had time to respond, I asked if they wanted to just step out. That got me, “Get the F out my face.” The teacher told the one student to leave and go to the office. I stepped back to let her deal with the situation. When he finally walked out, I followed him to the office at a distance to make sure he made it there. He cussed me out down the whole length of the building. Afterwards, I was so full of adrenaline that I cried and felt so foolish. Taking a minute to breathe and acknowledge would have helped me see my own built up irritation before interacting.
In general, I realized how I need to continue processing my biggest trigger issues to deal effectively with students. Being misjudged is a huge trigger for me and I can see how that has had an impact on interactions I’ve had with students and adults in my life.
I think this technique allows the adult, as well as the student, take an emotional and mental time out, Everyone needs the chance to take a moment and reign in their emotions in highly charged situations. This technique will allow them to relax and think through the situation before they make a decision that they might regret.
The situation that I am reminded of is my first encounter with a combative student that targeted me. I remember feeling like I had no control and no support, I remember feeling like I was failing at my job, but what I believe bothered me the most was that I felt like I was failing that student. Over the course of the incident with this student I remember taking deep breaths and acknowledging that my student had triggered me and that I needed to take a step back in order to help. By doing this my student began to regulate and went to his room. I have found in my position that without realizing it I am using TAP frequently. It helps tremendously in crisis situations. I do believe I need to focus more on TAP and use it more frequently as I do find myself needing a “tap” out to regroup and ground myself before continuing my support.
My biggest take-away from this unit is paying attention to conflict-avoidant and overly complicit behavior. We often react to the disruptive students, in which TAP will be a very useful tool. However, it will be more of a challenge for me to seek out connections to students who are often off the radar and overlooked. I think I will take stock more often of those students moving forward.
I was able to think of several instances in which the use of TAPs could have applied. I also found myself wanting to teach this techinique to the correctional officers I work with. I have had a fair amount of practice working with challenging populations and find it fairly natural to acknowlege to role of trauma and respond in a way that helps with de-escalation. I think it would also be a useful exercise to complete with the youth!
Absolutely. I run up against these situations almost daily, either working with youth directly or through working with parents on how to address “undesirable” behaviors. I think through my training and through working with wonderful colleagues the TAP method has become a natural part of how we approach situations. It becomes easy to fall into the “correction” trap and rarely provides the results that anyone wants. When working with kids it has become an inherent understanding that I need to work with the TAP method in every situation because the kids I deal with have well established trauma roots or ACEs and their behaviors are those adaptations and not willful defiance or shenanigans. Great method, needs to be taught at multiple levels for example with teachers and those whom are coming up against the behaviors more frequently.
I like this T.A.P. acronym as a brief reminder when in difficult situations. I have worked with teens in different setting and the situation that I thought of was during a group. I definitely see how this approach would have helped me a little better with the situation instead of getting frustrated. This was definitely helpful.
I like the acronym of TAP. Unknowing to me it’s a process I occasional would followed when I come into contact with what appear to be difficult people. The deep breath are a habitual habit of minds, since I find it very useful in calming myself when I become anxious or irritated.
During the exercise I taught of a particular incident of a set of different officers client meeting at the office for various reasons. These client were what we refer to as Ward of State. I had a client among the set and they were gather in a corridor area of the office on sofa conversing among themselves. At the time I wasn’t sure what had happen but from my office I could hear my client on the tip of her voice speaking about running away and using profound language about what all she would do. I politely step out of the office to investigate what was the matter. Upon approaching the child and asking in a rather low and calm voice ‘what had happen?’ it appears that she wasn’t listening to my question and continue speaking on the top of her voice. Still speaking in a calm tone I asked the child if we could have step outside; this she heard and obliged but was still yelling even after we were outside the office. While outside the office, I asked the question again as to what had happen for her to become angry?. She responding and still with a loud angry voice stating that she did not like how one of the Officer told her to be quiet and she had felt as though the Officer did not like her. I confirm acknowledging her felling. During the entire conversation I maintain a low and calm tone and after a minute or two I think she realizes that I was speaking to her in a low voice that she herself start lowering her tone and eventually calm down.
Very Useful. Stopping o take a breath when blindsided by a challenging situation really slows down the mouth connecting before the brain in these unexpected situations allowing one to think before reacting. Focusing on the idea that this is quite possibly a defense mechanism because of trauma is also quite useful.
Working with traumatized and troubled adolescents, I believe that using T.A.P. to be very beneficial. It gives you the time and space to react in an appropriate manner as well as the other individual using T.A.P. It lets the environment and negative space the client is in to slow down in order for them to process and react on a more cognitive level.
I have used tap at one time or another while working with my students. I work with very traumatized and troubled adolescents. It has helped me to not overreact to a situation in which a negative reaction would increase the student’s behavior.
I can see how this tool can be extremely helpful. I personally could use this. However, I usually work with parents and offer parent education and although I would rarely use this technique with a parent, I believe there are situations where this exercise could be helpful in helping them work through their own trauma that trickles down to their children.
I like this tool. I’ve had some practical experience with mindfulness techniques both personally and in a group sessions. I had an experience recently where I found myself in and out of using the TAP technique with a teenager (in a group process), he was “checking in” with feeling “terrible and worthless, its unfortunate however he does fall in the range of at least 4 of the of the ACES in the earlier lessons.
I began to feel fearful after my third question, with the same answer “terrible and never-mind me”. As I struggled to think and get creative in my questions, I could see his body language and verbal answers throwing me even more, it wasn’t until I stopped talking then he stopped and we had eye contact, I took a breath and lowered my voice. My thinking became clearer (P) I was able to proceed with honoring his bravely to speak in group. He then proceeded to share for about 5 min., or so. I am confident that the technique TAP will improve my self care and those in whom I am working with. I am planning to use the exercise with our mentors and parents of the boys we work with as well.
I believe that this technique is an easy to do and remember method that can be used with clients. I further believe that this technique will be useful especially in the high risk youth facility where I counsel with adolescent male. This technique can allow someone to become self aware, and begin to think before proceeding to their next approach.
The first time I do this with students, many of them seem taken aback. They’re so upset, frustrated, agitated when they come in to see me, and then confused when I respond with this sequence. But, afterwards, they understand why we did it and generally agree that it helps restore a sense of calm and “I can do this” even when the situation itself is not one in their control.
Before meetings with upset parents or frustrated teachers, I often do this myself, along with a “Power Pose.” It feels much better to redirect my energy towards a more positive mindset, and I’m a much better communicator and faciliatator.
I have been doing mindfulness with a class of high school special ed students. This class has been a handful for the teacher and we both feel the mindfulness sessions have helped the class with focus and self regulation. Last time, we had three students who just got the giggles and were a little disruptive to the rest of the class. I think the TAP technique would work well in this situation.
Excellent Technique. I could clearly remember an incident where I was working with a teenage pregnancy situation and I had an audience with the child’s family as well as the child to discuss the way forward in terms of a permanency plan and the client just snapped on me. She was loud and aggressive and disrespectful in my mind at the time as she was blaming me “personally” for wanting to tell her what to do wit her life now when I was not there when she was growing up as a child and the things she had to endure. At that moment I did practice some breathing techniques but I definitely could have used TAP to walk me through that process much more easier. I ended up ending the session and rescheduled with the family in order for myself and everyone else to compose ourselves and then regroup.
Participating in this course has thought that Self Awareness is very Key in everything that we do as it help me personally understand people from different perspective and not my personal biases. I am definitely going to share this technique with my colleagues it is very useful in the line of work that we do.
My niece had a TBI when she was 6 yrs old, as a result she becomes impatient, shuts down and fells like the world is against her. Earlier this year she was playing with her younger brother while he was completing his homework on my mothers new laptop. While playing, my niece and nephew spilled water on the laptop. My niece began to cry and became nervous and impatient. I was upset, but I did not want me niece to feel like she disappointed me. I lowered my voice and calmly sat down next to them and said that I loved them, we all make mistakes and we should learn from them. Through out the day I checked in on both of them, to reinforce that my love for them did not change and I’ll always do my best to support them however I can.
First of all, I noticed how sleepy I was while doing this practice! I brought to mind a therapy client who had gotten in trouble (for the 3rd time) for a technology violation at school. He was struggling to take ownership of his mistake. I was trying to explore this with him. TAP would have been helpful in that situation even just for me to deal with my own reaction/frustration/striving.
Self awareness and empathy are key. I do get frustrated sometimes working with adolescents and before i’m able to acknowledge, in certain situations, the session is over and the client has left on their own accord. This is a great exercise to follow to help me remain in the present during sessions and to help them through their traumatic adaption.
I work with a group of adolescent boys that are experiencing intellectual challenges, from low income households and traumatized, some of them repeatedly. I can recall one of the group session, where one of the boys- commonly called satan by his peers- repeated knocked the whiteboard with fingers and disrupted the group session. Initially, I ignored him to see if he would stop but then the noise became louder, I was forced to disrupt the thoughts of a member who was sharing and confront the behavior. I felt angry, anxious and frustrated at his behaviour but tried my best to conceal it. The other boys were angry and demanded that he be kicked out of the session because of his immaturity. I was able to use it as a teaching moment, highlighting how lack of self-control can offset negative behaviors. Also, I encouraged the boys to be supportive as we all have aspects of our behaviors that need improvement. The TAP method would have been handy during and after the session; it took sometime for the negative emotions to dissipate. A week later in individual therapy, we talked about what happened and he shared that he was hungry and needed to do something to distract the hunger.
I was focused upon an event in my classroom, two weeks ago. There have multiple code greens in our facility the past two weeks, and this particular event occurred with a resident that was on a thirty day notice due to violent and otherwise unacceptable behaviors and substances. I found that I was able to take the traumatic moment and finish processing it. Granted, our staff has had a great deal of processing to do what with restraints, injuries and residents off to jail . . .we have been a mess! This allowed me to put a final calmer, moment into my higher self, and I am feeling that I have processed a lot more that needed some peace.
TAP helped me to pause and look deeper into the adolescent’s world and the reasons for their behavior. In the situation I recalled, I could see how the adolescent’s oppositional behavior was related to a trauma earlier in his life and his need to protect himself.
When I was thinking about some of the challenging situations I have faced in my workplace (an alternative middle/high school) this year, what first came to mind was dealing with a parent. I was trying to help a mother with accessing a resource for her son and I called her on the phone. This call was met with great hostility and verbal aggression, and at the time I was very taken aback and confused as I had never spoken with her and felt like I was “just trying to help”. In this meditation, I was able to reflect on my reaction (shock and avoidance as I almost immediately got off the phone with her) and I thought about the stress that this parent must have been going through with her son having to change schools due to discipline problems.
TAP allowed me to stop and reconsider the adaptations that this parent herself may have developed over time. I was able to think about how I may have been able to handle the phone call without taking this parent’s reaction personally, in order to give her the information she needed.
I love this! Running therapy groups for juvenile offenders can often be difficult. I am going to use this when challenged with both adults and juveniles.
TAP helped me to stop focusing on my feelings and project increased compassion and empathy for the situation and person. I responded much more calmly then I would have previously.
During the visualization, I thought of several instances where two students I teach often respond disrespectfully and rudely to very simple requests (made in a pleasant tone), such as “please take your jacket off” or “please stop talking.” They’ve told me to “get the f*@!# out my face” or “leave me alone.” These outbursts happen a lot less frequently than they used to as my relationship with these girls has improved, but they still occur. The visualization reminded me of the importance of stopping and taking deep breaths and treating the girls with compassion, empathy and definitely not taking their comments personally.
I very much appreciate this technique (although I will remember it as “BAP” Breathe, Acknowledge, Proceed).
The technique was helpful in re-visiting a conflict I had with a transition-aged youth I worked with. I offered him an internship in my office when he was released from DJJ, knowing he had major challenges (developmental, traumatic, etc.), but thought I was doing him a favor by taking him in, to mentor him, keep him out of harms way and moving in a positive direction. Almost from day one, he had many inter-personal issues with my co-workers. On one occasion he blew up on a young woman in my office and, defending her, I reacted to him in a direct, no-nonsense manner. That caused him to escalate his behavior and quickly got himself fired.
Months later, we reconciled and continue to be friends. However, looking back, I know full well he was acting out of his own trauma when he blew up on this young woman, and was further triggered by my unsympathetic reaction to his lack of professionalism. Truth be told, I understand he was acting from his own trauma, believing he was protecting himself from an imagined threat, and not feeling valued. Unfortunately, I reacted to his trauma from my own trauma. I should taken the time to breathe, acknowledge that I was triggered, and the he was acting out of his own trauma, and proceeded with compassion.
I will try to BAP (TAP) more often, especially in situations like the I have described.
I was able to think of SEVERAL situations where I experienced a student being triggered. The one I settled on was this one: I teach a mindfulness class to young women who are at a youth detention center. I was starting to lead the meditation and noticed that two of the students were engaged in a conversation or interaction of some sort. I gently called them out by name and asked them to be quiet. One of them complied, but the other one went ballistic. She insisted that she was not talking and was VERY upset that I accused her of doing something that she did not do. She cursed me out and pulled her mat out of the circle. Although, I apologized and explained that from my place in the room, it looked like she was, she did not calm down. I took several deep breaths and grounded myself. I frequently do that when confronted with situations where there is a lot of emotion or obvious triggers. Taking a moment ensures that I will not engage in the same emotions or become upset. I know that my students have experienced trauma and so I am able to quickly have compassion for them. I allowed her to take the time/space that she needed away from the group and continued the meditation. When we moved to the next activity, she came back into the group. After the session, we talked and she expressed that she was upset that I accused her of something that she didn’t do. I apologized again and she was able to receive it. I also was able to offer my perspective that I could not see her face when I commented by saw her head moving while the other student was talking which was a communicative interaction. We were able to move forward. I did not have a formal name for the method, but I definitely use it. I also will take time to acknowledge my feelings more in the moment of grounding.
I was supervising an area at lunch. A student asked me if he could leave and I told him no. He started to argue with me telling me why he should be able to leave. I told him that he had to stay until the bell rung. At that point he just bolted. I followed him asking him what his name was and he stated “don’t touch me or I”ll punch you in the face”. I let him go at that point. If I had to do it over I would like to see if I could changed that interaction by asking him questions such as “Would you be willing to stay until the bell rings” or “I’ve been told that I can’t let students leave until the bell rings-would you be willing to help me out and stay until the bell rings?” At the time I was feeling anxious and could have relaxed inside and said to myself it is best not to get in a struggle with him. I could have have let myself know not to take it personally. If he still walked out I would just let him go and then talk to him about it at a later time to see if i could build a relationship with him and ask for his cooperation at lunch.
During Choices, my version of detention, I like to beginvwitj a mindfulness activity. This particular day, I could already feel that getting through the practice was going to be a challemge because of four particular students that were going to be in there. I could feel myself projecting my own frustrations on to the group e en before we began. As we started, one began to laugh, two others refused to participate, and the tje fourth was attempting to distract the entire group. I was able to gauge my self and acknowledge how this was making me feel internally and physically. I was able to take a few deep breaths, slow down my breathing and listen to to my body while also finding a solution as to how I would interact with the students. I was able to stop the practice, express what I was feeling and share what I envisioned for the whole group and tried again. All four were able to refocus and participate. We continued on successfully without having to call anyone out.
I reflected on a situation with one of my client who is very much in her own right complicated; however, she is able to cope with this. She is a ward of the state and has little to no family support. Being committed to a facility from a very young age, she grew frustrated with not being able to go on home leave with family. Nonetheless, in her situation, there was nowhere for her to go. Whether it be with family and in respite foster care due to her age and known behaviour. This was explained to her but instead of understanding, she became disrespectful and personally attacking me. I became irate but taking deep breaths was a practice of mine, so this was done. I then realized that her behaviour was beyond her control since it stemmed from traumatic experiences that she had as a child. This child has been through alot. As a result of this, I was compassionate towards her after acknowledging her situation every step of the way. This was her defense. This is the only way she knows how to protect herself. I then proceeded to ignore it on the said day but addressed the situation on her next visit,
TAP seems to be very effective in use by both us as the worker and for clients as well.
This exercise was one that I actually enjoyed since I often have to deal with clients who are defiant and sometime act in inappropriate manner. I thought of a situation where one of my teenage clients wanted to go to an event that I thought was not beneficial for her. Despite the fact that I tried explaining to the client my reasons for our decision, she insisted. She became loud and proceeding to curse at me. At the time, I got upset. My heart started to race and my voice began to tremble. I could not understand why the child was being so rude when I was actually doing something that was beneficial for her.
Knowing what I do now, I believe that TAP would have been certainly been beneficial to me as professional. I realized that I was focused on myself, rather than what the child may have been going through. In hindsight, I could have certainly been calm and thought about the situation instead of getting upset and angry. I now vow to be calm and now incorporate TAP because I now understand and know the benefits of being calm, thinking and assessing a situation before taking actions in an uncomfortable situation.
Yes, I’ve practiced using mindfulness during difficult moments while teaching. When I’ve gotten the eye rolling because of a particular topic we may be covering that students dislike, I’ve been able to take a breath and feel the visceral response of frustration come up in my body. When I recognized what was happening (that I was personalizing their behavior) I was able to continue without thoughts of worry distracting me. And you’re right, when kids act out, feelings still show up for me (as that is the normal human response), but it’s easier to navigate these situations when you can regulate your own reactivity.
This is a very simple and powerful technique that I really enjoyed Sam. As I no longer directly work with youth I recalled a time between my partner and I where he became suddenly aggressive in his communications. Revisiting this experience from the TAP perspective helped me to remember that while I know we all have our own series of trapped trauma in cellular memory, I hadn’t related this back to him in that moment. Doing the TAP exercise helped to reframe that event and remember to remember. Bottom line is, I am responsible for managing my own feelings and be remaining mindful and present I can do that. Thanks Sam
A particular situation was with a client I worked with who was being very resistant and oppositional. I felt very frustrated and anxious. I wanted to be reactive and provided multiple opportunities for that client to comply with the unit and staff. I think TAP could work for my clients who could be walked through certain moments or situations, acknowledge their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors related to their trauma, and most likely can help me as well!
I apply this in dealing with my own son especially when he is heightened and struggling to do it himself. Because it is my son, your whole armor vs armor becomes an issue for both of us to manage in a state of even self awareness very difficult. I feel TAP applies to human interaction in many environments 😉
Hi there, yes it happened today. A handful of students were talking, tossing paper wads at one another and laughing. Using TAP seems natural to me, although I still felt a sense of frustration as I was torn between feeling I should end the lesson because they were not keeping our agreements and wanting to continue because I want to do everything I can to reach these kids. I’ve found it really helpful to use inquiry, and due to this class on trauma I have started to use it more. When I asked one student about his behavior, however, he wasn’t authentic with me. I decided to have him sit near me and then moved him into a role of helping me. He continued to act out until I asked him point blank if he could be quiet or not so as to hear what I was going to share. He agreed to keep quiet and did so. I thanked him afterwards.
Since listening to today’s videos, though, I see even more ways I can use inquiry. Your groundedness and patience is stellar Sam. You are an inspiration.
I use this technique every day. As the supervisor of a women’s shelter that operates from a trauma-informed perspective, it is a rare day that goes without this intervention! I also have a client base that is not part of the shelter, and this is where it takes more of an effort from me because I still struggle with seeing client resistance as a failure on my part as a therapist- instead of the natural flow of finding how to join with that client. Recognizing that feeling has actually made a difference in both my client engagement AND my self-efficacy. I plan on sharing this technique with my staff at our next meeting.
TAP is a technique i often practice when engaging with persons who are disruptive and angry. Of course I didn’t know there was a name for it but I normally take deep breaths and calm myself before responding and engaging a situation. It reminds me to be calm and know that I am not to take the behavior personally. I would remain calm and be able to control my tone of voice and think clearly to ask questions which often times calm the person down to engage respectfully. I reflected on a situation where I was engaging a person on certain behavior however the person got triggered by the topic and started to curse at me. I sat and watched the person and took deep breaths and I was stunned at the unexpected behavior and quickly realized that if I said anything to the person at that moment that I would not be able to reach the person. So I sat and listened being acutely aware of my surroundings and potential risk to myself if I said anything else that would trigger the person further. By not engaging the person any further the person walked away. TAP is an important technique to have working in our field of work and would definitely share it with my colleagues.
I was able to remember a recent disruptive incident in a substance use disorder group I facilitate. The TAP technique structured my response and most certainly would have resulted in a more rapid desecration of the client’s disruptive behavior. Using this technique consciously will help me feel more comfortable when dealing with disruptions rather than “flying by the seat of my pants” and trusting that the skill will be there when I need it.
I recalled an interaction with a teacher, regarding discussing classroom Interventions for a student. This teacher struggles with her own issues, and I do try to be aware, but on this day, in trying to advocate for the student, I was less able to be empathetic to the teacher (it certainly didn’t help that she’s a yeller) and things did not go as well as I had hoped. It can be very difficult being in a school where the staff is not trauma aware, and remains very punitive. In social work, we have a similar practice called the “step down” approach, but I like the T.A.P., its easy to remember and put into practice.
I believe that TAP would be useful in the situation that I thought about. The situation took place well before I had any knowledge of trauma and it’s effects. Had I of practiced TAP, I would look back on the situation differently. I am hoping to use this regularly with my students.
I was able to practice this technique in an outside setting, which I found to be very relaxing, although at times distracting. I think that having the background information and application of trauma/this course, was much more helpful than when I had previously attempted a similar technique. I recalled an interaction where I witnessed a teacher and client interaction where skillful techniques were not being used. I found myself feeling anger and defensiveness, just as I felt in the moment. From this exercise, I take the awareness away that although everyone may not be a trauma-informed or even trauma-aware professional, the way a professional talks and interacts with youth are highly impactful. Furthermore, this exercise encourages me to work with professionals to help them become more self aware not only for themselves, but the people they work with directly as well.
I found sitting here going through with you at first made me very uncomfortable, I think in using it more I may become more comfortable in using it and then start using it with some of my clients. In listening to the seminars and each unit as you are speaking I see a few of my clients and how they’ve been moving through life and in dealing with their traumas.
I am learning more about myself and where I am actually in my own healing stages. I feel that as I heal more the more I am going to be able to bring my clients closer to finding their own peace.
I thought about a class where I go in to teach mindfulness. The classroom is very hectic and the teacher often yells at the students loud enough that you can hear it down the hall and in other classrooms. There are about 5 students who intentionally interrupt the lesson/mindfulness exercises. In this exercise I brought awareness to my body, noticed my frustration bordering on anger, and awareness of the context of these 3rd grader’s lives and histories. The point where I get hung up on is the proceed portion-how to proceed skillfully. Lots of options I’ve tried and there are more that I haven’t yet.
This would be beneficial in the schools where I work. In addition to working with the students in counseling sessions, I educate the teachers on how to engage with traumatized students. I try to give them practical suggestions on how to implement mindfulness practices in their classrooms.
I don’t think this exercise makes me uncomfortable, however it does remind me of all the things I forget to do during a stressful situation. I often leap into action, not taking the time to take a breath and acknowledge my feelings, my thoughts and how the youth is feeling in that moment. We do a lot of debriefing after situations or incidents occur, where we discuss with the youth and any staff involved what happened and how we can prevent it next time, as well as, what the triggers for the outburst were or how they are feeling after the incident (bringing them back to an acceptable zone of regulation/regulating emotions).
One scenario I thought of happened just last week at the group home I work at (a treatment facility for youth with mental health issues and/or developmental delays). One youth (14 yo female) has been repeatedly restrained for her aggressive tendencies and “tantrums.” When she was informed she would not be able to go on an outing that night by one of my coworkers, she immediately sprinted towards the staff with arms outstretched (reaching to what looked like her neck). I, of course in this situation, did not really have time to think/breathe/process. I redirected her in another direction (in this case towards the couch – where she fell), removed all other youth and started to de-escalate verbally. In this scenario, I believe once the imminent physical risk was prevented, the TAP principle could have played a great role. Taking a breath here and acknowledging that the other staff did not first explain why she could not go on the outing, probably frustrated the youth. Realizing that she does not have many ways she is able to/or has been taught to express herself definitely can help us explain her reaction also. Instead of speaking right away and trying to explain to her the reason logically, what would have been best in this scenario would probably be to acknowledge her situation and realize that she does not like the word “no” and we should pause and wait until she is thinking clearly and is less upset to have a discussion with her. In terms of “process,” by taking extra time, we would have spoken to her in a calm voice (knowing that she is escalated by loud noises) and asking her if she could come up with the answer as to why she was not permitted out in the community at that time (as the night before she was clearly explained consequences).
The take-away from the TAP paradigm in my opinion (and for my experiences) is to be OK with taking a breath and a pause before reacting to become more aware of emotions and come up with a well-thought out plan that is tailored to that specific youth.
I think TAP can be very beneficial for me or anyone in an uncomfortable situation. This exercise could help me in future situations when dealing with something upsetting.
This practice brought me back to a time with a student who had entered into my room and began yelling at me. I reacted, I yelled at him. It was along drive home that evening, and the hours that followed we difficult. I knew that I had failed, I knew that Sonny had been exposed to abuse and neglect at home, and over the years he knew me to be someone who would always make time for him. Upon arriving at school the next day, first thing I did was asked Sonny to join me in my room. I opened the conversation by apologizing to him. I told him that I made a mistake, and that I was sorry. we sat together for a while, in silence, just flowing the breath in and out. I truly believe that I was able to repair the damage I had done. I would also like to add that self-compassion comes into practice here. In my work with youth, I will stumble once in a while. I am far from perfect, each day is an opportunity for learning, not just teaching. My current practice of TAP includes paying attention to me connectivity to the ground with the the T Take a breath. Perhaps I practice CAP, C connect with my feet/breath, A Acknowledge, P proceed.
TAP was very beneficial for me. It made me remember a time when I was conducting a home visit and a youth did not want to leave his bedroom. He had locked himself in and was yelling inside that he did not want to see anyone and that he was going to run away. His mom was there and she was yelling back at him. TAP would have been very helpful during that time. While I handled it calmly outwardly and was able to de-escalate him, I felt frustrated in the moment on the inside. I will practice this technique from now on.
I really have enjoyed this approach. I aim to use it more often. I had a student today today ask me for candy and then completely through a tantrum. Instead of the utilizing the process I told him he was better than that and walked away. I do not think the message was clear and ideally will handle it differently next go.
I liked that we were acknowleding/recognizing that the behavior that was frustrating me was rooted in trauma. Made me look at it in a whole different light. And I am noticing that I am able to stay in a meditative state longer as I do more of it!
When learning about TAPS, I thought of instances during which I’ve incorporated elements of this practice. I’m certainly more aware and in control of my tone when speaking to students. I want to improve my facial expressions so that my appearance is more neutral and does not imply judgement or evaluation.
The situation that came to mind for me was when i was working with a young teen, who had experienced many traumas in her life (including a recent home invasion where she thought her mother may have died because of the sounds she heard, and then the subsequent relocation of home, and separation of her parents).
I worked with her and both her parents over a long stretch of time. One or two sessions that I spent time individually with her mother – bought up strong reactive emotions in me that I did not manage skillfully at all. The mother was very angry and reactive about her ex partner and trying to stop him having contact with their daughter. The father was not a violent man, there had been no history of DV or trauma within their relationship, in fact the mother had had an affair with the ex-s friend. I tried several interventions as a family therapist to try and highlight the need for mediation, and was trying to suggest that this would help them in working through as a family what had happened, so that their daughter’s anxiety and trauma symptoms could be better held by them both. I saw them both as loving and excellent parents and wanted to help them use all this resource I could see to help their daughter.
The father was so on board, the daughter was well engaged in her therapy work with me, but the mother was rejecting of any suggestion of mediation, and very stuck in her position of blaming the father and actively trying to pull her daughter into this position too. I became angry and defensive at one point in one of our sessions and became demanding and bossy in my tone “Have you got reason to think he has hurt your daughter or abused her in anyway?!” I said haughtily and defensively – and it led her to being more reactive and raising her voice, and ultimately feeling that i had taken a side, which in fact, I had (ashamedly).
Doing the TAP technique today was powerful – and helpful in going back again to this situation to reflect on my unskillful response then. In those moments I had lost contact with the mothers trauma (she has also been through the home invasion, was scared for her daughter, and had a history of DV in previous relationships). I had also stopped being self-aware in that moment.
For me the part in TAP that helps most is “Acknowledging” : 1st. Acknowledging what was happening for me in those moments. I felt angry and was judging this mum. In my life, my dad had been my sole champion in my own traumatic childhood experiences with my mentally ill mother and other situations that occurred in my childhood. So so I was enacting my own trauma in these moments (a mentally ill mum trying to kill off a loving and secure father) and I got armored up rather than staying compassionate of this mum; and 2nd: Acknowledging that her reactive blaming stance was possibly a reflection of her activated self, as she was trying to protect her daughter, reclaim her own life, and a reflection of how overwhelmed she herself was feeling. Perhaps her staunch blaming stance was an attempt to control the situation which felt so out of control for her, and also which she had a lot of unconscious shame and guilt for (she regretted the affair, and felt blamed by her own family for the marriage breakup).
If I had been able to tune into this awareness at the time – I could have accessed more skillful ways of bridging our dialogue and finding a way through with her.
I am a mindfulness based practitioner – but this TAP technique really helps extend in a practical, quick way, how to help our own internalized clinical supervisor as we do our clinical work. Awesome!
Yes, I do believe this could be very beneficial. I had no problem remembering a time when this exercise could’ve been helpful. I just wish I had known about it at the time.
I like this tool and think it could be very useful both before and during sessions. I recently led a compassion exercise for a group of sixth grade students. Some of the students became disruptive and I think TAP could have been useful to me. Seeing through a trauma informed lens helps me to check in with myself and practice self management.
I find myself using the TAP technique in all aspects of my life, at home, work and teaching. I feel that it helps balance and self regulate my emotions by checking in, acknowledging my feelings before proceeding.
TAP is an extremely useful acronym. What I like the mos are the two parts of ackowledging.
I,m more used to acknowledge how I feel but not as much how the other must be feeling and even less, to be open to the possibility of trauma in the person who is upseting me.
I remembered a day when I was giving a Math class to an 11th grade class. They were used to being disruptive but I took it personaly and felt realy bad about not feeling in control of the class so I raised my voice and the result was that the students raised their chatter even more. I remember feeling really angry and impotent, not knowing what to do.
TAP would’ve helped me to aknowledge my trigger and to be more asertive with the class.I think TAP is a very useful acronym and it helps us not only to self regulare, but also to be more empathic.
I have been trying to work a similar process of STOP (Stop, Take A Breath, Observe, Proceed) into my responses. I appreciated the simplicity of TAP, and especially the emphasis on Acknowledge not just where I am, but also remembering the potential for a trauma conditioned response from the student.
The particular incident that came to mind was a group of three women who were whispering with one another during a meditation. I had handled it by putting a hand on a shoulder and shaking my head. The subtle difference I might use, as I reflected, was simply to smile and lift the gaze, acknowledging that I saw them without expressing disapproval. I think it still would have helped them refocus while avoiding a potentially triggering moment.
I really like the idea of practicing TAP as a way of being more mindful. Part of my work takes me into an adult prison 2-3 times a week. I am there talking to parents that are incarcerated in an effort to assist their children. I am sometimes uncomfortable and have felt my buttons pushed on occasion. I have also used TAP when working with children of all ages including my own teenager. For me, taking a breath gives me the space to remember the things that I already know about acting out behavior, and then react in a mindful way.
i chose a time last year in front of my third grade class that I was student teaching in. THis group had 4 deeply traumatized youth that daily exhibited behavior that the teacher and I had to figure out how to manage. As I was presenting my lesson about the creating a globe, one of the boys chose to become quite disruptive. in the meditation i stood and watched him and took a deep breath. I was feeling anxious about being able to continue the lesson, anxious about how to get keep things on track and not losing the whole class, angry that i wasn’t feeling calm and controlled. It was better once a I took a deep breath and realized it wasn’t going to throw off the entire day, just a moment or two. Inreality i don’t think i took long enough to pause. The pause/breath can give the child a moment to reflect as well, especially if they are anticipating an aggressive, immediate reaction to their behavior. I chose to wait and then consider asking the boy to help me hand out things if he wanted to participate. I have returned to this school this year and daily I am reminded of how to deal and not react to quickly. I have escalated a situation accidently last year on more than one occasion, but this mindful work is quite useful. I interpret it in a way that tells me to come at the situations and the kids acknowledging how young they are, how much they have already suffered, and how I am, in their eyes, one of the enemy. taking a deep breath and looking at these kids with deep compassion and respect can drastically change a relationship from distrust to confident, or at least from distrust to a not too threatening adult authority.
I enjoy the TAP technique as it allows you to process what is happening and allows you to slow down and get calm. In a environment that may become stressful at times this works and helps in minimizing frustration and lets you take a deep breathe and maybe start over or much calmer. I ENJOYED VERY MUCH!!!
This Tap technique will be useful to expand my own mindful practice but also to provide a different tool when I teach mindfulness to my students. I believe this can help them to process and accept whats uncomfortable, and to sit with that, which is not an easy task. This will help them observe what is going on, accept it, without trying to change it.
During this practice, I went back in time to when I was in my first year teaching in a 6th grade special ed classroom. My particular student had a habit of going into a trance-like state during my lessons, and would stare, or re-enact a traumatic event from his past by mumbling words, such as “no” or “help me”. At the time, I was aware that he had been a victim of violent acts committed by his father, and his mother was unstable as well. My special ed director basically told me to allow him to continue his behaviors, as their were no other supports in our school available to him, other than a very inexperienced social worker. It was a very depressing situation for me to see him this way, day after day. I used as many calming techniques as I could, but mostly I was a passive observer, and just allowed him to express himself in a way he seemed most comfortable. I felt alot of anxiety about this, and I believe that using the TAP technique in these moments would have alleviated some of my paralysis in dealing with this student.
I think I have used TAP on a daily basis. I work with students with significant disruptive and at times defiant behaviors. I am generally the person called in to assist a student in a behavioral crisis so TAP and the general ability to stay calm are needed.
The situation I thought of was an incident that occurred 2 weeks ago with a particular student of mine in which she was escalated in her behaviors which lead to her screaming in my face, threatening to hit me, and actually throwing a chair across the room. The student and I have a positive relationship; however she has a significant trauma background, limited verbal expression skills, and difficulty accessing coping skills for self regulation. Her behavior was an traumatic adaption because as a result of previous traumas, this student seeks control of the situation in order to try and prevent negative outcomes.
I have used a very similar technique when teaching mindfulness to students and teachers. STOP: Stop, Take a breath, Observe your reaction to the situation without judgment, and then proceed.
I think that TAP is similar to the way try to work with young people who are distressed or stressed, I say try because I do not always get it right. I think by modelling the behaviour I can sometimes be the one person who can stay consistent in their approach and behaviour.
I don’t always monitor myself so well and can remember one time when I was asked to step in to co-facilitate a group for young children 9-12 who had experienced high conflict between their post separated parents. The course runs for 8 weeks and week 4 the co-facilitator became sick and I was asked to help out. The children were unsettled at having a new temporary face in the group so I took a back seat to the other facilitator who struggled to contain their energy and direct any of the activities. One child even dropped to the floor and did the worm across the room. I remember feeling very frustrated that he was distracting the rest of the group.
After the group there was an opportunity to debrief with the other facilitator and we talked about how we kept our cool with the group at the time it was running.
I didn’t feel “cool” but obviously didn’t show my frustration but really did regulate myself as well as I would have liked at the time. I think that I have over the years developed a form of TAP for myself as a way to work with others and manage myself in counselling and groupwork but it was helpful to spend the time doing this exercise.
My memory was in regards to a student in my yoga class who did not want to participate. Instead of sitting quietly, he began to loudly complain that he was the only male in the room, steadily increasing his agitation as the adults asked him to have a seat. At that time I felt apprehension in my chest and felt anxiety that he would disrupt the entire class and not allow the class to happen. Since he usually participates and seems to appreciate the class, it is not a strange idea that something else was being triggered and taking an inquisitive instead of confrontative approach would work well. TAP would have helped me to deescalate my internal anxiety.
I do not really have a memory, but these practices will certainly help me deal with the mother on one of my cases who is very reactive and volatile due to trauma that she has experienced in her lifetime.
For this exercise, I found myself sitting in someone else’s office with one of my clients, a 13 year old male. As his tracker (pre-trial supervisor), I had made an unannounced visit to him at school. I encountered him as soon as I walked in to the building; he was on the phone in the lobby, screaming and cussing at whoever he was “talking” to. Due to the already escalated situation, I asked if he would like to meet with me privately to talk about whatever had happened. He agreed (how I found myself sitting in someone else’s office). Through conversation, I found out he had been asked to remove his headphones by a teacher…he declined in a way the teacher did not receive well, and the situation escalated. My client, at some point, decided he needed to be picked up from school, so he called his mother. His mother declined to pick him up and so began the onslaught of verbal abuse I had walked in on. Before I could continue to address the current situation, my client requested to lift his lockdown status (house arrest, basically). Ultimately, his request was declined. My client was set off; he began screaming, clenching his fists, grabbing his face, and kicking things. His faced turned red – I could see sweat beading on his forehead. I was in utter shock. I could not believe his reaction, it was (from my perspective) totally disproportional to our conversation and the circumstances. I remember feeling embarrassed, for him and myself. He would calm himself enough to ask again; every time I remained firm, his extreme behavior would resume. At the time, I struggled to find compassion. I eventually became annoyed. Eventually, his bond was revoked and he was sent to detention.
This course has made me think of this client on more than one occasion. I initially viewed this youth as spoiled and just plain criminally minded. Now, I am more aware of the repercussions of the family dysfunction and emotional neglect he has experienced. Doing this exercise, I noticed I asked questions initially in this situation, but did not toward the end. I became more frustrated and more demanding…and accomplished little. I do think it would have served us both for me to “TAP in” to the situation.
I like how simple the TAP technique is and I intend to use it when I am dealing with difficult interactions…whether with youth or their parents!
After completing this activity, I was able to recall a situation in which I was completing a home visit with a teen mom and the client was recalling to me a time when she was sexually assaulted. The client then went into how she felt that her mother had abandoned her, which thus resulted in the client being vulnerable to a point where she was victimized. I recall feeling anxious in the moments where the client was detailing to me her experience, mainly because the client was herself triggered to the point that she was reliving the details of her experience at that present moment. I felt my heart rate increasing during the TAP acetivitty and found myself better able to control my breathing today then when I was present with the client on that day. I do believe that this activity is helpful when dealing with youth, especially those who present aggressive behaviors. I believe TAP can be essential in allowing trauma informed professionals tools necessary to help engage traumatized youth in a more positive mindset.
This helped me to rethink a situation that happened right before listening to this TAP visualization activity. A student was asked to take a few moments to relax after transitioning into the classroom following some physical activity and indicated that he did not want to relax. I was frustrated by the response. I was able to have a discussion with him about choices, but realized after this activity that he may have been simply trying to let me know that he did not feel the need to relax. I do feel the discussion we had was appropriate, but it felt punitive to me and I do not want to be punitive, but I also want the students to practice taking a moment to debrief one activity before jumping right into the next thing. However, I realize that had the student been triggered this discussion could have been a disaster. I would have done better to ask a question about what he could do instead to allow other students to relax.
I think this could be a very useful tool, particularly when going into a a session where you know there maybe students who are struggling with managing emotions, thoughts, experience etc. In addition it creates a space between the stimulus and the response, which is critical when dealing with situation that maybe volatile.
I am planning to practice using this TAP visualization as a strategy for managing myself and my responses when in uncomfortable or frustration situations.
I love the idea of turning the awareness not only into where I am at in this moment however also a reminder to rememeber where a student is coming from before proceeding. I like the acronym because it offers an easier way for teachers, who I will share this strategy with, to remember the moment when working with traumatized youth. Facilitating groups, I have experienced students talking, not participating, etc and usually I just pause and wait, however not with awareness such as is offered with TAP. thanks
I like using the TAP; particularly since my district is going through what is actually and organizational shift around both trauma informed behavior intervention and embracing the multi-tiered support system paradigm. Resistance to change can take a lot of forms and I’m now using a TAP VAP technique that works well with adults and children. The Take a Breath, Acknowledge my feeling and attempting to empathically take the viewpoint of the other person – then consciously modulating my voice tone, asking a question to determine if I’m perceiving their concerns and then being positive (reinforcing their openness of their feelings, letting go of my way and incorporating their words into a possible middle ground, etc. – TAP VAP. Tends to work and I’m less stressed, overall.
The T.A.P. method is going to be a very useful technique for me. I am a juvenile probation officer and I supervise juvenile sex offenders. I having been working with a young man for a year and he is very resistant. After completing the TAP visualization I was able to acknowledge my negative emotions that were keeping me from effectively helping him. When I took a compassionate view of his situation, I was able to put things in perspective and immediately thought of several strategies I can try to possibly weaken his resistance and show compassion rather than irritation and frustration. My goal is to guide him toward finding more productive way of protecting himself.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
8 Principles for teaching mindfulness to teens
Get the free guide now!
We will NEVER share your information. Unsubscribe ANYTIME.
Mindful Eating Activity PDF
Enter your email and we'll email it to you directly!
We will NEVER share your information.
Unsubscribe any time.
9 Principles for teaching trauma-informed mindfulness to teens
4 tips for practicing trauma-informed care with youth
Get this PDF delivered right to your inbox and be a better therapist, counselor, mentor, teacher, and even parent IMMEDIATELY!!!