Date of Award

5-4-2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Joel Meyers

Second Advisor

Stephen Truscott

Third Advisor

Laura Shannonhouse

Fourth Advisor

Catherine Perkins

Abstract

Many school-age children in low-income communities experience at least one potentially traumatic event (PTE) before adulthood. Urban high-need schools (UHNS) can play a central role in serving youth by integrating trauma-informed practices (TIPs) throughout a multitiered systems of support framework. Although school psychologists are increasingly urged to support school-wide TIPs, their use of such practices is unclear due to the frequent omission of school psychologists from the trauma literature (Diamanduros et al., 218; Overstreet, 2015). Recent studies have identified the gap between school-based trauma research and practice, with some citing limited training as a potential barrier (e.g., Gubi et al., 2019). However, no studies to date have thoroughly explored urban school psychologists’ trauma training or their implementation of TIPs. Chapter 1 outlines the effects of trauma on urban youth, reviews literature on the effectiveness of TIPs in UHNS, and underscores the need for school psychologist training in trauma. Chapter 2 employed a consensual qualitative research design to answer the following research questions: 1) How do urban school psychologists become trained to deliver TIPs? 2) How does school psychologists’ training influence their perceived competence in providing TIPs? and 3) What TIPs do urban school psychologists use to address student trauma? Twelve school psychologists in high-need urban elementary schools completed two-semi structured interviews on their trauma training opportunities and implementation of TIPs. Analyses revealed the following five domains: a) participant trauma training, b) perceived competence in delivering TIPs, c) addressing trauma in evaluations, d) collaborating with adults, and e) direct work with children. Graduate trauma training varied widely across participants, which directly influenced their perceived competence and led many to seek additional professional development. Training also influenced the type of TIPs participants used to support students who experienced trauma. Most participants noted their use of TIPs that target trauma-related symptoms rather than evidence-based interventions that directly address trauma and PTE exposure. An overview of these strategies is provided. Implications for future graduate training curricula are discussed.

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