I don’t ever feel uncomfortable . I thrive working with youth it’s my hearts passion . However for some reason yet to be revealed God has me working with adults again and that stresses me out as does the administrative side of management so I find that I am going inward more and more to maintain my balance.
When I am engaged with youth especially around trauma I am fully present and operate in full alignment with my purpose it’s odd to explain if you don’t understand . Everyday I pray for the right opportunity .
I felt a lot of tension dissolve with this exercise. Thanks for leading this.
I thought of a time last year, I was new to this new teaching situation. It’s in a special school where there are 50 kids in the class at a time and 2 teachers. We are a problem based learning (PBL) school and the class is Maker Science. In every project students work in teams to make/engineer something and learn science in the process. The reputation of the school is that students are the best at cooperation and teamwork, there are schools that come from all over the world to observe this school because of it’s reputation. So I came into the class expecting this but it’s not at all the actual situation within the class! The actual situation is much more chaotic and traumatic.
So in our first unit teams needed to make a Rube Goldberg machine and learn about Newton’s Laws of Motion. This incidient happened about 3 weeks into the year. It was my birthday. The work for the day was to be building the machines. There were 10 teams of kids building. I noticed 2 girls sitting on the side of the class talking to each other. I was mad. My voice sounded mad. I asked, “Why aren’t you working with your teams?” One of the girls said, “Oh right.” and she was off to work with her team. The other girl was probably triggered. She reacted in a big loud way. I didn’t know what to do with this reaction. I really didn’t have situations often in my previous school to interact with students in such a way. I sent her to the site director to calm down. At this school were I teach now I have many more students who require skillful interactions. I have gotten better at keeping my voice calm and respectful. I try to ask instead of demand. Over the course of the year I got to know a lot more about this girl and she taught me a lot about how to be more skillful when interacting with students who dealing with stresses and trauma.
I’m getting so much from this course thank you very much Dr. Sam!
Yes, I was able to think of a situation that happened last week with an adolescent who did not want to participate. We were playing a game and when it was their time to answer, they said they did not have an answer. It was a simple question, even when prompted they still gave a shrug and no answer. Revisiting this moment in this exercise helped me run through the different emotions I was feeling at the time. I did not react at the time, I just moved onto the next adolescent, but I think this exercise helped me sort through my thoughts and the feelings they produced and then let it go. I could imagine getting this response week after week might become frustrating, I may even develop some kind of bias against them in a group setting. Allowing myself to proceed also allows me to continue being skillfully engaged with the rest of the group since addressing the adolescent at that time would not be the right thing to do. I think TAP could be effective in the moment if practiced to the point where it becomes second nature.
I had a teenage boy a few years ago that always triggered me with his disrespect and attitude. I found it puzzling as to why he triggered me especially because I have worked with hundreds of teenagers over the years with far worse behaviours and attitudes that have never triggered me. I believe the TAP method would have been beneficial but in the moment, I would have this battle going on in my head regarding this particular boy and I wound up referring him to a colleague. In retrospect, I believe what you have talked about in this module would have helped me regulate my own response in order to have more effectively address his needs.
A young teenage girl came to mind. She was living in residential care (state care). She has complex trauma and an ACE’s score of at least 7. I attended the residential unit as a police officer responding to concerns of sexual exploitation. This young girl had trauma adaptations of behaviour, dissociation and risky behaviours. On arrival she was very much in fight mode. She was angry and abusive. She did not want to engage with police and she was demanding we leave. Thinking back to my reactions I believe I responded in line with the T and A of TAP. I was able to ground myself and I was aware that her reaction was likely to be a safety mechanism, I learnt behaviour to protect herself. I was able to see her behaviour through a trauma lens and not take her comments and actions personally. The P I am not so confident with. I endeavoured to engage with her, I did not raise my voice or make demands of her. I tried to calm her through my calm approach but the result was not positive. The young girl did not settle, she continued her behaviour and we had no choice but too leave. This module has made me reflect on how I engage with complex clients and I will continue to be aware of the TAP Principles in the hope that it will assist me to engage with youth to engage in the future.
The experience I thought of actually happened yesterday so this was easy for me to partake in as the feelings/thoughts are still fresh. One of my clients immediately began yelling/swearing at me before we even began talking. She was automatically defensive and I immediately knew she was going to exhaust me. She is known to be aggressive with staff and can be quite rude. She always manages to trigger me and I knew this was going to be no different. Throughout our experience she was rude, yelling, mumbling under her breath, and occasionally silent.
I did this exercise and began taking deep breaths as I thought of her initially yelling at me. I then acknowledged what I was feeling. I was feeling angry and frustrated. I could feel my body tense and even knew that as soon as this event ended I would be extremely fatigued. Thoughts running through my mind included, “are you kidding me?” “are you done being a diva?” “I literally have not said anything yet”. I then acknowledged the trauma that she has experienced and how it has conditioned her to behave a certain way. She was being defensive because that was what she was used to. That has how she has survived the last 18 years.
I pictured how I wanted to proceed, which somewhat matched what actually occurred yesterday. I told her that I understood that she was frustrated and then I let her continue to yell. This was a situation where you pick your battles. Anything said would have been fuel to her fire as she was hurting and needed to release. I acknowledged her feelings and then I stayed with her, but did not speak further.
This exercise will be good for me in the future as I can easily be triggered even if I know that I am not the cause of tension. Taking breaths and acknowledging my own feelings and then acknowledging the trauma my clients have faced makes it easier to understand, not take things personally, and respond appropriately so that I can hopefully help them or not make things worse. This is a good way to prevent a worker from getting burned out while on the job.
I thought of many examples of my own use of TAP though I had not heard of it. I have worked with defensive youth, and primary children. Some have violent patterns. For the T step, I go inside and remind myself that I’m there to give to this child/youth in a way that transmits caring. I have no hooks on me to snag his/her triggers, I am just me, undefended. Then I listen and my responses are, I’m going to say ‘pure’. Just meaning that no agenda of mine, for my self defense or aggrandizement, is in play at this moment. I am for this person totally. Then I proceed with honesty. I think this method came to me when I taught whole class middle teens who had given other teachers a really hard time. Several teachers had abruptly resigned from the class and I was brought in from another school to try to get them working. It went well and the attitude is pretty much my natural attitude now. I also want to add that my own partner of 7 years is a person from a traumatic past who has never before had a long term relationship. He flees when triggered and it is sometimes for quite a while. It’s not easy to maintain this relationship, but the way you have described TAP is where I stand. I hold on to my truth, always ask questions, always appreciate.
When I was married I had a lot of issues with my 2 step children (both teens) being extremely disrespectful to me and acting out in all kinds of ways. During this exercise I went back to a particular behavior that just got under my skin which was when they would laugh at me after I would give them instruction. The laughing triggered feelings of anger, frustration, and hurt that played out in my reaction. The more I reacted negatively, the more they got a kick out of it! I think the TAP technique would have been helpful during those times… I certainly wasn’t thinking of their behavior as a protective adaptation to the trauma of dealing with the divorce of their parents at the time but I can see it now. During this exercise when I got to the proceed step, I felt some guilt come over me because I was so caught up in how upset and discouraged I felt as a parent in those moments that I failed to approach them with compassion and empathy about what they were experiencing.
When I worked in the hospital as a child life specialist one of my responsibilities was to prepare children for illness, disease and the test and procedures that accompanied them. I know for many kids this is a traumatic event. I am thinking about some of the teens who become non compliant and put their health and life at risk. I can think of many conversations where I approached the teen with more of a lens of typical adolescent development and the changes that occur in the brain during the teen years. I am now thinking about even though I understand illness to be a trauma that when the kids returned sick due to non compliance that I could have use a trauma informed lens to better understand the non compliance and work from a different stance. That is not to say I didn’t follow many of these guidelines in the TAP method but I think I could have understood the response of non compliance as an adaptive behavior due to trauma rather than due to typical development: risky behavior establishing their own identity, and/or wanting to take some control of their treatment that was the opposite of their parents. Often kids just “yessed” us and continue to be non-compliant. This would anger and frustrate staff and if I am being completely honest myself as well. I think has I used the TAP method with a better understanding of non compliance as an adaptive behavior than I think at least I could have built a stronger relationship of trust with the teens and been more effective.
I hope this makes sense.
The TAP visualization is will help me to achieve the goal of rehabilitation of clients. This technique helps me to empathize with my clients and help them to overcome obstacles. This technique will also help me to be aware of my subconscious barriers. I visualized working with a young person who did not see the need to comply with his court order. I felt frustrated because I was trying to help this young person and that person was putting up a barrier. I later realised that the young person was putting up a barrier because the young person went through abuse when the young person was younger. I did not shout at the person but remained calm and spoke in a low tone of voice. From this exercise I visualized that the client would build trust to take steps to make positive choices. I have understood from this course I can anticipate obstacles when working with clients but there is a way to solve problems. I am getting a chance to deal with my emotions of rejections. I will work on be emotionally prepared to deal with my emotions subconsciously in a positive manner towards clients.
This practice brought up a memory from a few weeks ago. I was facilitating a music therapy group with a group of four girls and we had just listened to the song “Hard Times” by the band Paramore. One of the girls who we will call A, had been having a hard week self-regulating. She was never sure how she was feeling and she felt like her emotions were all over the place. Before and during the song, she had a flat affect and was engaging minimally. After the song, I had asked if any of the group members had a word or phrase in the song that resonated with them. Everyone seemed distracted so I picked one girl who was writing in her journal, who we’ll call B. B picked up the lyrics and tried to find something. I had a feeling she was distracted by what she had been writing, but I did not feel offended by her lack of attention. A, however, did and stated “B is too busy writing a letter to a boy so she doesn’t have an answer for you.” B made a dirty look at A and said “no I am not, and what I do is none of your business”. This response made A completely shut down and ask to leave the group. I asked if she could stay a little longer and she stated no. I attempted to call a staff down (I did not have a staff with me that week) but could not get a hold of anyone. I apologized and asked her if we should just end the group early so that we could go back (I could not leave the group alone obviously). She looked at the floor and said, “no I’ll just wait”. I continued the group but while I continued she began tearing up her lyric sheet in tiny little pieces and was staring off (almost dissociating or just trying to ground herself from becoming reactive). The group ended in a very awkward way and I was able to get everyone back to the unit safely.
During the meditation I felt anxiety, discomfort, and a little frustration. I did not feel frustrated with the kids because B did apologize to A and tried to comfort her, but I felt frustrated because I didn’t have too many options to make this individual feel safe. I liked that the mediation allowed me to honor and acknowledge that A was trying to protect herself. It also made me realize the situation could have been much worse where she could have reacted in a violent way to herself, to B, or to me.
The following week there was a code yellow (aggressive behavior) in this group, but it girl B and another girl. No one was hurt, and no one attempted to come after me because I had built such a rapport with the girls that I would do everything in my power to make them feel safe and understood and listened too. Voice, Inquisitiveness, and gratitude/positive reinforcement goes a long way!
For me this is both professional and extremely personal. While engaging with others in a professional setting, I am much more likely to take a moment to collect myself, ask questions and give plenty of positive reinforcement. Personally, this is much more difficult. Even though my husband and I chose gratitude as the theme for our wedding and as the foundational principle of our family’s interactions, it is much easier to default to making demands on the people closest to us.
I’m very reactive to my teen daughters and I know that I am bothered by conflict that permeates so many things. With our middle daughter being a victim of repeated sexual assault by a teacher, I also need to engage with her in different ways at different times because of how she has built a very tough traumatic adaptation exterior. I can’t engage with her when she is defiant and irrational and I want to be grateful for the adaptations she created to survive the months of grooming and rape. Our other daughters have developed their own adaptations and they each need different things. I know if it were a student of mine I would be better able to use appropriate skills.
So, I’m not so great at being still or meditation but I have been doing a lot of reflection in all areas of my life.
The TAP process is very wise. the pause to breath and centre oneself prevents impulsive reactions, the oxygen to the brain helps with that as well. I’m glad for the P part suggesting a soft approach and gentle questioning. That is gold.
The TAP process is a very useful process, however sometimes in the moment of distress it is hard to think about these exercises to digress. I do believe TAP is very beneficial and could have helped me in many past situations. I had a client many years ago that had a lot of behavior problems; showing out in class, trying to fight me in public and even in the car. This was very stressful and it puzzled me until I explored her past and was able to spend time at her home with her family. Yes this child had a lot of trauma that I was unaware of which had a lot to do with her behavior. This technique will help me with future clients. TAP is a good coping mechanism.
I wrote my comment and when I posted it, I received a message on the computer that said I had to be logged in to leave a comment and my post disappeared 🙁 Now I am the one feeling frustrated, guess it gives me empathy for my students.
Anyway, during the meditation exercise, my mind wandered among three different instances in my classroom this past year. I had a hard time staying focused on just one, so I just let it be.
The message that I hope to reflect on in the future is that I can give triggered students compassion for protecting themselves. I don’t think all the negative issues in the classroom are necessarily triggered by trauma, but this thought applies to students who are experiencing low self-esteem or have a fear of success.
I have used the RAIN strategy when working with youth but really like the TAP strategy as well. Anything that helps slow down the automatic response is a good thing.
The event occurred 3 years ago and I missed the first step of taking a breath. Since then I have made a point of stepping back (taking a breath) and working on my tone. I will be sharing this technique with my fellow teachers and where needed with students.
The meditation helps me to ground and center before reacting along with just helping put perspective back into a situation. The more we can do this as adults, the better off our students will be when they have a situation that causes them undue stressors.
Excellent exercise in how to approach situations where the behavior is evident but the reason is not obvious. As a high school teacher of at risk youth it can be hard to know what triggers their responses. I have used this technique although not really as a conscious choice-it just sort of developed and worked. Even though I feel it has worked and have used it, there are times when I get frustrated and respond in an agitated state which does escalate the response from the triggered student. As you have explained we are human and this does happen. When I take a step back and realize what happened and how I contributed to the escalated situation I have a conversation with my student and sincerely apologize. The student usually does too since I work hard to establish a positive relationship with each student. We then agree on how to proceed. It is amazing to look through this lens and not take outbursts and negative classroom behaviors personally. I look at it as we are all just leaning and growing. We make mistakes, acknowledge that fact and figure out a ways to make it right. It certainly is a process.
This was both a good exercise for me and also hard. The example that came to mind immediately was extremely personal as most of this stuff is for me. One of my daughters developed an eating disorder almost immediately after her dad abandoned our family. She was about 9 I think, maybe 10. Because of the severity of it I have had to place her in several care facilities away from home. This has gone on for about 7 years and there are layers and layers of trauma that have occured for all of us as a result of my marriage and all the fall out of it’s ending. My own children have an ACEs score of about 7 and this particular daughter even higher.
One day about a week and a half ago I was doing dishes in the kitchen and she came in. She was already extremely triggered when she entered. I sensed this and took a few deep breaths and tried to remain calm and non reactive. What I didn’t do was recognize this as a defense mechanism for her but instead braced for an attack which very shortly came. The minute she walked in like that I was triggered from my own trauma. My mind froze and all I could think to myself was “no matter what she says don’t react.” As she proceeded to light into me and began to raise her voice and become very aggressive verbally and even physically when I turned to leave the room, blocking my way, my thoughts were anything but gratuitous and calm. I’m very sad and embarrassed to admit that after a few minutes I was not able to remain calm and the situation ended badly both of us crying and my other children triggered as well.
Looking back on the situation in the exercise today I could feel myself tense, I felt anxious, frustrated, hurt, angry. I remember that day also being able to feel all of her emotions too. I remember looking at her as she was angrily speaking to me and seeing fear, broken-heartedness, insecurity about weather or not I really loved her, extreme sadness, and like she didn’t belong anywhere, that no one wanted her or could ever love her. It made me cry when it happened and with all she was feeling on top of all I was already feeling I felt completely overwhelmed and felt myself shut down instead of being able to offer her what she needed which was compassion and understanding and gratitude that she had learned how to protect herself. I repeated the situation several times during the exercise trying to think through a better way to have handled it to get to the P. I think it may have been best to maybe have taken a time out immediately and offered to come back to talk later although I’m not sure that would have gone much better.
I appreciate this lesson and this exercise for helping me to remember to pause breath and think before I proceed. It has always served me well at work with my students, hoping to get better at it at home.
The TAP method is golden for me and I will practice it in both my personal interactions with my nieces and nephews who challenge me constantly and in the school setting. I have used up until now, the T…..breath and create a space between stimulus and response which has resulted in amazing outcomes, and I also have used the idea of compassion for the other person. The term Acknowledging however is new and adhering to both firstly how I feel and that I am not the anxiety/anger etc and can let it go with kindness and to see the behavior through a trauma informed lens is going to be super helpful. Using Proceed and asking questions is new. Voice tone and positive reinforcement are both concepts I have had positive results with in many challenging situations.
I have been trying this technique and didnt even know that I was.I really love it and truly feel like it helps.
I currently have a demanding parent for one of my client who feels as if though I must always leave all other matters and see that my all my attention is directed to her.She has sent me messages making allegations but I never answer negatively back.I would call her to my office and ask her to tell me what the problem is ,in a none confrontational way of course.Oddly enough, she never speaks to my face negatively but she sends message and emails all the time accusing me of not wanting to assist. When she is in my office I use the TAP technique and it really helps me to get over my frustration with her.I would be happy to get over one meeting with her but soon after the messages and emals would come flowing again.She tests my patience a lot but I have learned to work with her in away that I avoid confrontation now and the messages and emails have been minimal..
Love this technique
Difficult situations present themselves frequently at my workplace, and although I rarely feel uncomfortable, I do feel anxious and frustrated at times. For this exercise, I thought of a conflict with a coworker, and the discomfort I felt when there was miscommunication. I felt flustered that our messages weren’t getting across even though we had the same goal. This technique was helpful to acknowledge the discomfort I felt, and release it. I think being present and naming the uncomfortable feelings will be helpful in the future to ease the anxiety of the moment.
As I was thinking through numerous examples in my career and personal life, I began to realize that I skip over the “what am I feeling” step. I have a military background. We would run several high-risk missions and would keep rational in those moments. I cannot recall every asking myself how I felt. I use that same technique when situations become escalated at school. I jump into the calm, cool, decision-making mode and move forward from there. I’m going to start taking a moment to consider how I feel and see what happens.
As I am my sons carer whom has ptsd I would find the tap method extremely helpful. Hopefully one day will go into more education in this area. I would imagine if I was in session with a client it would bring alot of emotion up if the client did not want to agree . Challenging my experience and abiity if I was a therapist.
I did not realize that I had using some of this technique when presented wit a difficult student. I am by no means an expert, but I am going to share this with my fellow teachers.
My experience was with a young man who had not only PTSD,but also oppositional defiance disorder. He started banging his head on my wall and his PSR worker was out for the day. I was scared. However, since he and I had a pretty good relationship I was able to walk him through his melt down. Come to find out the novel we were reading hit to close to home and it triggered this response.
During this exercise I did some time traveling, back to my first job right out of college, mid 80’s. I was employed in a residential treatment facility. I thought of one girl in particular, who could push my buttons like no other. As I reflected my feelings, I immediately felt angry and frustrated, but once I delved deeper, I experienced feelings of vulnerability, it was as if she could see right through my inexperience and took advantage of it. Once I was able to send her some compassion I felt relieved of those old feelings of inadequacy and guilt for not being able to meet her needs at that time. Although I was aware of the complex trauma that she had experienced, my mistake was taking her actions personally.
What a valuable tool TAP could be in working with girls like this one in particular.
TAP is a wonderful tool that I will definitely add to my kit. I have been using elements of it and now that I have learned the other pieces, I can see its value. I always tell myself that I don’t have control over what others say, do or think; I just have control over me. I believe this to be true but I also know that my approach and attitude towards others can influence their behaviour as well as give them a gentle push to do some of the work that may be helpful to them in the longer run. Being aware of how I am feeling and allowing myself to feel makes it easier to acknowledge clients feelings and emotions which in turns leads to a relationship built on respect and dignity.
Yes i have experience this in the past it was with a client of mine. It took place as we were sitting together in my office making a plan for him. He was not agreeing to none of the options we were coming up with for his plan. I think the TAP exercise would be very beneficial to me as it would better help me to make better choices when working with my clients.
I have been so grateful for this unit because it has put words to my experiences so that I can talk about them with other people. I have never known exactly why it was so easy for me to work with aggressive or difficult individuals, but now I know that I wasn’t taking anything they were doing personally, and I was trying to let them find their own way to calm down and recenter.
However, now I feel tension and aggravation with my own kids because I have totally different expectations of them, and I DO take their behavior personally. I will be able to use TAP in my own home, especially with my toddler, even as I use it to talk to struggling parents of foster children who have a number of traumatic adaptations.
while working with some teenagers who are a bit difficult to deal with I realize that I have been using the TAP technique without even being aware that I am using it. In many instance there are teens who will try their best to push you and see how you will be able to respond to their behavior. They will be testing you.
I had a client who was a real disturbance to society, he was always involve in criminal activities and always blaming the police for picking him up for no reasons. He would not listen to his mother and do as he is pleased. There is always something going on with him. During his sentence of six months probation he was ordered to visit my office once a week. The first week he was really rebellious, loud tone of voice, do not want to partake in different assessments, do not want to work on a plan. However, i listen to him and let him find a place of comfort and made him felt safe, use a calm tone of voice and the relationship grows better. Now he is working, does not have a steady job but work now and again, not being harass as much by the police, does not have much friends of bad influence. Whenever, there is a situation I could speak to him and he listen and we tried work it out.
So for me these units are very informative and it allows me to acknowledge that we do use these knowledge and techniques in our day to day life and it honestly works. I will continue using this technique with my clients and for my own personal life when I encounter certain situations.
Many years ago I was doing an internship in a residential home for boys. Most of these boys had severe trauma and during group time, the leaders yelled at them constantly, It made me feel bad and I can’ t even imagine how bad the boys felt. There appeared to be no understanding of their situation. I wish i had been given the opportunity to do some mindfulness with them or something that would calm them down. this exercise would have been perfect as i was not even the leader but could have stepped in after a moment of breathing and acknowledgement of what was happening. This will be a good technique to teach parents of children as well.
During the exercise, a former student that I taught on the Reserve came to mind. I worked with this child from JK to Grade 1 and she spent the majority of her time in the classroom completely dissociated. I received some trauma training during my time on the Reserve, but I could not help but find it frustrating at times when trying to work with her in one-on-one and small-group situations and she would “space out” for long periods of time. Especially when it was content that I knew she could do! I understood that this was a protection mechanism for her in a perceived moment of threat, but it was hard not to take it personally because I had always taken a trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive approach in my classroom. I think in those moments the TAP technique would have been useful for me to stop and think about what was triggering ME in those moments when she was triggered. Had I been able to acknowledge that I was feeling attacked in those moments when she was dissociating, I probably would have been in a better position to pay more attention to the triggers when they arose and I might have had more success with her had I been able to find the pattern or locate the trigger that was causing her to dissociate. I think that taking that breath, acknowledging the feeling for both myself and this child, and then proceeding in a manner appropriate to her triggered response would have been more beneficial for both of us.
I feel that this technique would also be useful in my current work with Transitional-Aged Youth and even with the staff I support because a mindful approach not only prevents myself from getting caught up in moments where I feel my own triggers coming on, but would allow me to work with staff and clients from an empathetic and informed lens.
Nice exercise! It was easy to think of a situation and very helpful to walk through the steps of TAP I’m pretty good at taking the breath before proceeding, but sometimes struggle with the acknowledgement part. I remind myself to not take things personally but it happens and I can see TAP being a good technique to support me with taking some space, being curious about the situation and holding compassion for the young person.
I worked at a residential treatment center and so I frequently experienced combative behavior in individual sessions and group sessions. I always had to remind myself to take a deep breath and remain calm. It is difficult to do sometimes but it was important for me to remain calm and in charge of the situation.
As I went through this process I tried very hard to visualize using it within the context of something happening with one of my boys in the classroom that is frustrating for me and in this setting my immediate reaction wants to be to lash out at the kid. Having worked with students like this for a long time I know that this is never the best case. While I appreciated the experience I also believe that it is possible to use an abbreviated version of this “in the moment” to ensure a calm and reasoned response to the defense mechanisms that my boys are exhibiting. Great experience! Thanks for leading!
During this exercise I thought of a 1st grade student that I worked with this year. I found it difficult to remain focused during this entire process and wonder with the ages/grades I work with if a shorter process would be sufficient. I appreciate the TAP process and can see that the steps are very important.
During the exercise I was able to think of several individuals that the TAP process would be beneficial for. I work with many young people who have brain injuries and often times they respond in ways that are triggering for me and my co-workers. There are a variety of techniques that are useful in those situations that are similar to TAP but not that have the specific trauma focus so it will be a very useful method.
I did think of a situation and I think I did handle it well in the end – not in the beginning. I initially was snappy to a 15yo in a group because she didn’t want to participate in the exercise. The girl withdrew and curled up against the wall – we all sit on the floor. After a few minutes and me realising what was happening I apologised in front of the group and said I was snappy to her and I was sorry I had spoken like that. She denied that I was snappy, and denied that she felt anything bad. But very slowly she uncurled and slowly joined back in with the group. It was a good repair situation and I was very conscious of my behaviour – and very conscious that the behaviour was showing it all. In retrospect, and using TAP I could have been much more conscious at the time of her behaviour coming from Trauma adaptation and not being reactive to my frustration and disappointment that my great idea of an activity wasn’t such a great idea for the girls.
I was able to think of a recent interaction with 14 year old male, who has multiple ACES’s and disorganised attachment. This young person was in heightened state of anger and fear and actually threw a mobile phone (his trauma adaption) across the room in the counselling session.
Rather than “react” to the behaviour I was able to regulate my own response in a calm and systematic way. The young person was expecting me to yell, become angry or some other negative authoritarian response – I in fact did the reverse and just calmly said to him “so… do you go through many mobile phones?”. This was not the response he was expecting and this took him by surprise (as most of his care givers [home and school] would have reacted and punished this trauma adaption/response)- he then, because of this was required to initiate an alternative response. This redirected his behaviour and internal state and I was able to facilitate a more appropriate response and build trust with the young person.
I too could think of a recent example with one particular client in the group whom clearly doesn’t want to be there and often challenges myself with his comments and behaviors in the group. I could absolutely use the TAP process to aid in monitoring myself and interact more effectively with my clients in groups.
I was able to think of an example that happened in a classroom. As soon as I did the second part of A. (acknowledge the behavior may be related to a history of trauma) my reaction dissipated. I was able to not feel personally attacked. The understanding and empathy took away my uncomfortableness with the situation.
I love this! I have used STOP for many years, teach it often, but the explanation of A- acknowledge, particularly with that second step of intentionally bringing in awareness of a trauma informed view is such a useful addition. The “O” I have used in STOP is “observe with kindness” (very helpful!), but this additional directive hones it with even more clarity. Having a daughter with multiple complex trauma issues, I wish I had used this with her yesterday! Helpful to think back through the steps of the conversation now and consider my “repair” conversation for today.
Yes, I connected to a time when I was working with 11 young women in a group setting at the local youth home. I was teaching yoga to them with the case managers in the room when one young woman was triggered by a certain pose that required her to use a leg that had been broken by her father while she was trying to defend her sister against physical abuse. I definitely think this is something I could have used with the her and the group. I could have also benefited from it personally after the teen girl had to be restrained and taken from the class and the group could have benefited as well.
I was able to recall a 14 year old boy that I worked with about 2 years ago. This boy had a considerable number of aces and a very difficult home life about which he was extremely angry. I recall that he was extremely reluctant to engage with me and this brought up for me a sense of frustration, annoyance, tension and a fear of failure in the work with him. Whilst I was able at the time to recognise that this was a protective response on his part, I found the feelings that I experienced difficult to place in this context. revisiting the events with this exercise and applying the TAP process, as well as having some distance in time, has been useful to me. If I had more mindfully used the TAP process at the time, the events would have been easier for me to manage personally with less sense of having failed this individual.
I recalled a situation when my own anxiety was triggered when I met with a girl who was so highly activated and tense she barely moved from the moment she sat down. Engaging her in conversation was incredibly difficult. I recognised that this was her way of protecting herself but it took me some time to be able to be in the moment with her. By employing the T and A I now have greater self-awareness and able to Proceed more appropriately. This is a great skill to learn.
I am thinking of many situation with clients that I can use the TAP technique. Whenever becomes difficult to work or rehabilitate clients I often think about what is causing it, what the client is going through and what is causing the client to behave the way he or she is. If a client becomes difficult, disrespectful etc I sometimes get angry but I try very hard not to show it. I would scold the client and state to the client that I cannot help if you don’t allow me to. I state to the client That whenever he or she needs me he or she can visit the office or call me. I believe that the TAP technique will work and it’s a very useful technique.
Unbelievably simple yet profound result… I realize that I don’t use this often enough in my personal life. It’s easier for me to apply it with clients especially the youth that I work with.
Grateful for this!
I thought about a 14 yr old female patient, who had intense trauma she was still processing on her own, but was coming to sessions. On this one day, she came with her ist of other ways she did not want to be in therapy any longer and asked about her diagnosis b/c she would like to join the military in a few years. I stumbled around in session that day and believe if I utilized TAP then she might still give it a chance. This will be helpful for work with other patients.
Usually I try to keep my patience with the kids I work with at the center, I always try to remind myself of the environment they come from. I can remember an incident when I was speaking to a small group of adolescents and all of a sudden a girl began to disrupt the group conversation, I asked her politely if there were something she would like to share with the group. The girl got very upset and began to yell of the top of her head, at that moment I can remember feeling desperate thinking how I was going to handle the situation. I stood up and asked her if we could please speak outside of the room, she agreed and felt a small relief that she had listened to my request. I asked her if she was upset about something, she said she did not want to talk about it and would drop by and see me the next day, I can remember feeling sad and hoped to see her the next day at the center, I was relieved that I had kept calm, because it would have only made matters worse for the girl. The lesson on TAP, reflects and describes the importance of following these steps in order to have a better outcome when working with adolescents.
reflecting on my experience working with youths; there has not been much of those cases that triggers me with the exception of one. I could recall my approach often being that of a calm, relax and open-minded character. This one instance though, the child was actually a teen, I had just gotten assigned to her case. She had had several case workers and probably many disappointments in her short lifetime. Even so, I approached her with an open mind to this after acquainting myself with her case. Upon approaching her, she was already defensive, her body language was distant as she drifted away from me. She was then verbal about me drawing close to her and becoming very vulgar as she started to curse at me. I ignored her and still took a seat beside her, trying to be understanding of her current situation. Even so, the child continued being rude and I eventually found myself giving in to her reaction to me. I got up and told her “find”. I then said ” I don’t want to be your social worker and I could hardly be bothered by this, I am leaving”. I walked away and minutes later she approached me and apologized. I smiled almost immediately and we went to a quiet place once again to orient ourselves with each other. Reflecting on it now, I know that my behaviour in itself was not called for, I should have remained calm and allowed her the space she needed to vent and collect her thoughts. Using the TAP approach would have definitely been a better and more effective approach. I do believe that all of us go through many stages and cases of traumatic experiences that one way or the other exposes itself in our work. But having the knowledge and techniques to properly approach these situation makes it a whole lot easier to deal with.
I found TAP approach approach useful for working with children and youth. And times kids misbehave and being rude, and instead of reacting we can take a moment, recognize our frustration, take a deep breath and only then proceed. Taking a moment would allow us to use our rational brain and don’t react harshly to possible trauma adaptation behavior.
TAP will definitely be a tool added to my kit as we strive to provide our client wit the best service. I can recall while working as a child care provider in one of our residential home, there were many cases because these children were parentefy it was difficult to have them act as children. I think the TAP method would have been a good technique to assist them relax. Another instance where i think that this method would be helpful where children that come into care and did not have any structure and had to fend for themselves, it becomes very difficult as they were use to doing their own think i later learned that the behavior was their way of coping with having be taking care of instead of having to provide for themselves.
I imagined an incident from a therapy group- which at the time of the incident I became reactive and shut down the conversation in an attempt to avoid it. At that time I had retrospectively reflected on the anger and frustration I felt in the moment and worked to repair it in the following session. It was useful to re-visit this event and practice in my mind how I might have managed this using the TAP technique and have proceeded differently using this skill base
I have worked with several young people who have been disrespectful and acted out towards me. Calling me names, throwing items, shouting at me and walking out of class. At times I have reacted to that behaviour by raising my voice which has only fuelled the young persons behaviour.
In my past I have had some negative experiences and there are times the young person’s behaviour towards me has taken me right back there. On some of those occasions I have felt the emotions and have had to ground myself so as not to react.
This exercise was very insightful and extremely helpful and yet very simple and effective. From understanding comes knowledge where a huge difference can be made in a young persons life.
I was able to think of an example immediately. I had a conversation with a youth who reacted in a way that was totally unexpected and caught me off guard. I had met with someone from a program that offers paid internships for youth to discuss future referrals. This young man had completed an internship there and the staff highly praised his performance and personality. The manager asked me to ask the youth if he would be willing to be interviewed for a story they could use for marketing. Because the youth had told me he had a good experience doing this internship, I assumed he would be happy to help them with the story. When I told him about it, he responded “are they going to pay me to do it?” I told him no, they were just asking him to do this because he was such an exemplary intern and his story could really help market the opportunity for other youth. He said he wouldn’t do it for free and wanted them to pay him $50. He said you can be my lawyer and get them to pay me. I was so taken aback by his response and his physical and verbal demeanor, which I hadn’t really witnessed or experienced up to that point. I thought he would be so flattered by their feedback of his performance there and was so excited to relay that to him. I felt immediate frustration, disbelief, anxiety, disappointment, and anger at him for acting in way that I felt seemed disrespectful and entitled given all of the support assistance they had provided to him during his internship (i.e. case management support: bus passes, free food, help finding a job after the internship- rides to complete applications, to interviews, etc.). I could feel my body tense up. I told him that I would not be asking them to pay him as that is not my role and that if he wanted to inquire about being paid, he would have to do that. I remember being aware that I was feeling defensive and I just wanted to wrap up/flee the conversation so I wouldn’t say something inappropriate or that I might regret. As I reflect back, I think my tone of voice was probably escalated somewhat and tense.
I do think that using the TAP technique will be very beneficial. During the exercise, I went right back to how I felt in that interaction and using the TAP technique was helpful to walk through the steps. In retrospect, I think I handled the interaction okay, but was able to visualize handling it better using TAP. I definitely believe in the importance of TAP, especially the self-management piece of acknowledging both my feelings and the fact that youth’s reaction is most likely a traumatic adaptation. I can see how practicing this technique is so important so that it really becomes ingrained and reinforced. Thank you- great information and techniques in this course!
Doing therapy in a clinical setting, most of my clients are here voluntarily and are relatively compliant. But I can think back to working in an agency and school settings, when I was starting out and thinking how much I didn’t know, and how poorly I responded. I was likely surrounded by traumatized kids, and often lost my cool myself. If I had had these resources ten years ago, I would have been a much more effective provider and teacher. It is so imperative to have the paradigm for understanding trauma, and even moreso to know how to check YOURSELF (before you wreck yourself…and the kids). I am so glad the old bulls**t about not backing down and always being authoritarian and strict and trying to win battles is out the window, in favor of a viewpoint that is much more compassionate, understanding, and overall effective, and which promotes dignity for all involved.
The situation I thought of involved one of my students this fall. We’d just opened our residential clinical program for teenage males with Asperger’s, and this student had significant school and life trauma. He also had a previous, very trusting relationship with our lead clinician, my boss, from a prior program.
Joe would refuse school quickly, pull his hair out, even spit and destroy things in the classroom. He was so uncomfortable in his own skin, I had much compassion for him. He was mean, too, and to make all the matters with the child worse, my boss and I could not agree on how to help him to get through these school episodes. I wanted to be the one to work through it with him, since he was triggered by school and I was the teacher. Instead, my boss took him away, processed with him without involving me, and brought him back in through their alliances rather than helping to heal the child’s feelings of school or myself. That was a difficult time for sure. In these moments, I had to use more TAP techniques with my boss to maintain regulated than I had to use with the child! The child’s behavior was explainable. The adult’s behavior was frustrating.
I’m glad to say – it took a few months, but that student learned to trust me, and by spring, said that this school experience was the best ever. He’s now in a better place overall due to our sticking it out. I do think we could have saved some time this fall if my boss had closed the loop, acknowledged that we could all deal with it even if it was hard, and proceeded together with intension.
This was a great exercise. It reminded me of the Buddhist meditation practice known as Metta, where you start with yourself and move your sphere of attention outward to family, friends, community, the world, and even to “enemies” using the phase, “May you be safe and protected,” “May you be healthy and strong,” and “May you be truly happy.” It really puts things into perspective quickly and I found the exercise quite wonderful. I wish I could remember to do it more often. Here’s a nice summary of one version of Metta practice for those interested: https://www.lionsroar.com/how-to-do-metta-january-2014/
I was thinking of a situation where I had voluntary transferred to the more “ghetto” school across the freeway and the students were resistant to me as they were grieving the loss of their previous Wellness Counselor who retired. One student approached me and said to me with a mischievous look on her face that she heard that I break confidentiality. I was caught off guard and didn’t like how I responded to her – I’m pretty sure I was defensive. I remember losing sleep that night, thinking about how difficult it would be to get buy-in from these students – I really needed them to trust me so that I would be able to work with them. Anyway, this TAP technique teleported me back to that situation and gave me a chance to respond to her in a less defensive way. Thanks for the easy acronyms – they help!
I had a student challenge me on the accuracy of what I was teaching – without the student having read them material and I remember feeling embarrassed and frustrated. If I had taken a few breathes before I had responded I could have saved us both some embarrassment.
I came up with a lot of examples. Mostly when the other is angry is when I am triggered – I used to get very tense very fast and mentally I used to panic a bit. Oh no, what will happen, will he calm down, i feel dreadful. After learning mindfulness skills, I became able to notice my body’s reactions more and realise that my autonomic system was being fed off the other, not my feeling, theirs. And then looking deeper into that behavior it becomes clearer that I personally am not the issue (necessarily). Compassion is so hard to do sometimes but it’s really important. And it helps. I’ve never been really stumped by a client and the proceed part becomes a refocus for me – where to now, this is too threatening to that person, how can I go about it another way – or change tack altogether.
Good exercise to do thank you, mine was during a childrens yoga class when one lad was reluctant to join in and where i remember being fruatrated and embarassed and fear of loosing control of the group. At the time I said if he did not wish to join in then he can sit at the side of the room however he was then diarupting the others feom the sidelines. In reviewing this during this mediation I would have got the group started in their breathing exercises and spoke to him calmly as to what he was feeling as it could have been uncomfortable sitting and being calm if inside himselfnor his mind was hectic….. I will definateoy use this more often and follow tap. Thank you
TAP was a good exercise for me to take part in. It was hard to visualize a situation related to work because currently i do not work direct care with youth. When I first heard of TAP, I thought of tapping with bilateral stimulation. I can see this technique working very well with the population that i work with; when young adults get frustrated and act our their trauma and when we as professionals know that we are doing everything to help move them forward however they are resistant as a result of their past traumatic experiences. This is an opportunity for staff to recenter and refocus in an effort to assist the youth.
I was able to visualise several scenarios from working in residential care, this also included dealing with youth workers that I supervised when instructing them to implement a task for the young people.
TAP would be beneficial on a daily basis and be very good for self care and to refocus on a task. By taking time to refocus I am better at responding positively than negatively, will definitely use TAP in my future involvement with youth and staff.
I immediately thought about a class setting where two students were being disruptive during class. I felt frustrated and tense during this time. Acknowledging this behavior as a reaction to trauma, protecting themselves from trauma, makes the disruption a different issue. Authentic conversations with these students would allow for growth and inclusion into the class.
I really like the TAP technique and look forward to using it at the school I work at, especially teaching the technique to teachers who I think will really benefit from it. I went back to a moment where I was called in to assist a student in crisis, which is the most frequent time in which I use techniques similar to TAP. In reflecting upon the past situation I realized that I do a form of TAP already. I can see how it will be helpful to use TAP repeatedly in some situations. In the situation I used in the meditation, the student started to recover and then became triggered and amped up again. I realized that in this situations I feel frustrated and disappointed that we took a step forward and then a couple steps back. This is when I need to use TAP again and begin again in a good place.
I can see how the TAP technique would be helpful for working with youth. It is nice to have an actual technique for what I tend to do naturally. I have found in the past when met with resistance that I did have to take a step back and view the situation in the eyes of the one resisting and connect with them to understand. Thank you for putting a name to how I react instinctually. Great to be positively reinforced for my behavior and makes sense now why youth connect with me the way they do.
I have had a few situations recently with clients and their parents that have required TAP and have found it is something I was using prior to this course. I have shared the TAP technique with a few of my teens and they have also found it effective. I feel it is valuable for not only my work with high risk youth but also in day to day interactions with coworkers, family members and my young child. I have found with my own mindfulness practice that I use the TAP technique across different situations and emotional responses.
What I discovered is that I use the “T” of TAP whenever I am facing a challenging situation with a student or client. What is new to me is the “A”–acknowledging (and naming) my feeling(s) and acknowledging that the student’s response could be a response to trauma. For me, that helps to make the behavior “less personal.”
There are certainly times where I could have used the TAP technique and I do tend to use it naturally much of the time without giving a name to it. It has been very helpful to understand that whatever is going in not about me (I deal with trauma reactions from someone that is close to me). I breathe all the time to the point that one child looks at me and says “I don’t breathe” and I have to remind them that this is about me and how I ground myself and that it works, but I am not forcing them to try themselves. Choosing how to proceed is something that I am working on as I am very aware, but I still sometimes struggle to figure out what the next step to take it as something that works one day might not work another time so the children always keep me on my toes!
The approach of taking 10 minutes just to breath really helps to refocus and help to calm any nervousness that I am carrying. I know that anything new for me has been a challenge to adapt too but it has also been a blessing. I am constantly working through things myself and therefore I am better equipt to deal with those things youth may be going through. It is a really a good technique to get into the habit of practicing when working in the public and working with trauma. When I was being mindful I could hear every little noise around me. But what got me was that there was no sound. I was not sure how to react. I suppose this would be the same kind of response that someone who has never done this would feel. Asking soft open ended questions with the person you’re working with is a great tool. Thank you for opening my eyes to trauma and how it causes adaptive behaviors. We generally don’t see the cause or think about the cause behind the actions but with learning, we are able to help better those who need it. Thanks for the TAP technique.
I will use the TAP visualization often, now that I’m aware of it. I work at a high school for students who are at risk of dropping out. I am a school psychologist. I practice mindfulness with them. I deal with situations that are triggering for me and am continually trying to stay in touch with myself through the process. TAP will help!
I do not find myself stressed out because I know this is my purpose in life to serve others and to help DV/SA victims but I do find myself attending to and being aware of my on triggers since I am a survivor. I do use mindfulness to always be self aware, alert and to informed of my own personal self care of self.
While meditating in this exercise, I thought about 3 of my 5th graders who had a history of Trauma and acted out in classes. Thinking of the TAP program would work really well. After getting frustrated in the first few classes, I made a point of engaging them in class, trying to manage my own frustration, and most of all I got to know them as young men and I learned what they were interesting to them. It was amazing what a difference it made as the rest of the school year continued.
I found myself relaxed by this exercise and struggled to put myself into a situation or state of mind where I would need to use TAP. That being said about 5 mins after I finished listening one of the kids on our unit began screaming an swearing and although I was not the staff who was managing the situation I quickly thought of TAP and how it would be useful in the situation. It also allowed me to observe the reaction of the staff who was engaged with the youth and how it became very apparent that she was being triggered by the youth; you could see it on her face. This will be a great strategy to share with the broader team.
I remembered a time when I was assigned to supervise students sent to in-school suspension. Challenging authority in the room comes with the territory and it is easy to get frustrated. I can definitely see how TAP would have allowed me to address the refusals to follow instruction without things escalating. My reaction to a student’s refusal to comply sets the tone for the room. Viewing student behavior as a trauma adaptation reduces my anxiety and frees me up to assist the student. This strategy is a game changer.
I first learned about the concept of TAP in the MBSAT training last fall and I have used it often since then. During this visualization I thought of one student this year who refused to meditate with the group and would read his book instead. He said he could not meditate in a group situation and that he only liked to meditate by himself at home. I took a breath and acknowledged to myself that his behavior frustrated me. My immediate inclination was to take his behavior personally and see it as a failure on my part. However, when I reminded myself that his behavior was some sort of adaptation or protection it definitely helped me to be less reactive and stay calm and in the moment. In terms of proceeding, I was perplexed at how to handle his refusal. I used questions to engage him and asked what it was like for him when he attempted to meditate in a group situation. I also used the situation to revisit our group discussion about feeling safe and I normalized his inclination to be more comfortable meditating alone. I did eventually ask that he refrain from reading while the group meditated and he agreed to that request. He contributed significantly in other ways to the group so I made the conscious choice to focus on his contributions and gave him positive feedback for the contributions he did make. He warmed up and became more open over the course of the group but I still would have like to have seen him participate in the meditation 🙂 TAP definitely helps with the group process!
I think that this exercise really helps to process experiences. I love the idea of going back to experiences, acknowledging, and connecting. I have not had the chance to use this, but I can see using it often in being mindful at work and teaching to the skills trainers I supervise who are often out with kids who are unable to connect to their experiences and are resistant to discussing how they felt and what their body was feeling in certain situations.
In our organization we have tshirts with the motto, “Breathe, stay calm and care” – which I’m happy to see is basically the TAP model!
The last school where I worked was a high-stress environment and this exercise would have helped me generally be more mindful and calm while working with our youth. I can think of a moment when a young man who volunteered for our school was supposed to clean but he was just sitting in chair playing video games. When I asked him if he could do his work, he did not respond. He kept his headphones in and just looked at me when I spoke. I raised my voice and he just said “I heard you!” I asked him to take his headphones out and he didn’t, repeating “I heard you” again. I ended up raising my voice to yell to just take the headphones out and do his job! I later learned he had been sexually assaulted and abused. He was a victim of complex trauma and my approach had triggered a combination of a freeze and fight response in him. I remained irritated with him for a few days but had I been able to do this exercise, I think we both would have been able to move on much more quickly and authentically.
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