DATE CHANGED: Anger, Rage and Trauma: Talking to Kids About Difficult Things, Finding Hope When We Need it Most: Helping Children with Depression and Anxiety in Schools


Speaker: Daniel Jacobs, Ed.M., Psy.D., M.B.A

Topic: Trauma

Location: Burlington, MA

DATE CHANGED: Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Children exposed to significant trauma, chaos, or dangerous environments often develop communication and behavioral strategies based on anger and rage. They commonly express themselves in negative and self-destructive ways, have trouble communicating, and often exhibit their pain via erratic, aggressive, and dangerous behavioral patterns. They often engage in substance abusing or other self-harming patterns that can further complicate their ability to function and to heal. Working with these youth can be a great challenge, and this is made even harder by their attempts to push us away.

To help these youth learn more adaptive coping strategies we have to be able to talk with them about their difficult issues in the right way. To be most effective in our work with them we have to be prepared to hold very difficult conversations with a strength-based focus to help them face concerns many would rather avoid, and then we want to be able to explore more positive coping options. We have to set firm but fair structures and consequences in place for problematic behaviors while at the same time being able to offer them useful and realistic alternatives to their negative behavioral patterns. These youth need to learn ways to take control and responsibility for their actions and we need to avoid being caught up in unnecessary power struggles and ineffective reactive loops as we help them achieve this goal.

For clinicians and caregivers who want to be successful at helping these youth it is crucial to have effective strategies and ways to talk with these youth about difficult issues in a proactive manner. This workshop will focus on practical strategies useful in handling the challenging behaviors most often exhibited by youth dealing with issues linked to anger and rage, particularly those exacerbated by exposure

Following this training, workshop participants will be able to:

  • Describe key communication styles common with angry youth impacted by trauma and neglect.
  • Initiate effective verbal interventions useful in furthering positive conversations with troubled youth about painful topics.
  • Adopt techniques to spot aggressive cues and behavioral patterns in the formation stage to help in stopping further escalation before violence occurs.
  • Create a toolkit of verbal and behavioral de-escalation strategies designed to address agitated youth at risk of committing self-destructive acts or violence towards others.

This workshop is designed for social workers, educators, school psychologists, special educators, guidance counselors, psychologists and other professionals who want to be successful in helping youth with anger management concerns. Workshop format will include lecture, interactive case examples, use of multi-media tools, and discussion.

Dan Jacobs, Ed.M., M.B.A., Psy.D., is an Assistant Professor at William James College (WJC) in Newton, MA (formerly known as The Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology/MSPP) in the School Psychology Department where he teaches a range of courses for graduate students including: Addressing Substance Abuse in Schools, Collaborative Therapy with Multi-Stressed Families, Counseling and Psychotherapy in Schools, Clinical Interviewing with Children and Families, and Psychopathology of Childhood and Adolescence. He is the former Director of the Adolescent and Adult Partial Hospital Programs at NSMC/Salem Hospital in Salem, MA and he works in private practice at Jacobs Psychological and Consulting Services (JPCS) in Lexington, MA helping youth and adults with mental health and dual diagnosis concerns. Dr. Jacobs believes hope is always an option and believes adoption of a strength-based and proactive mindset is the most effective way to begin the journey of helping our clients become empowered to make positive changes in their lives.

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