Components of the SSET Program
Lisa Jaycox (bio) describes the key elements and activities in SSET.
The key components of SSET are psychoeducation, educating the students about the common reactions to trauma. That enables students to feel more normal and understand their responses. Relaxation training, so teaching them how to relax their bodies, because anxiety is one of the key aspects of PTSD [posttraumatic stress disorder]. Some cognitive training, so teaching them the link between thoughts and feelings and how to combat those automatic negative thoughts that are really common in PTSD.
There's also some work on the trauma narrative, pretty different than what you see in more exposure-based therapies. What they do is construct a story, which is in line with what middle-schoolers learn. So, they construct first a newspaper story with the who, what, where, when, and why of what happened to them. As if, you know, so it's a little bit removed. And then they work toward constructing a more personal story where they're using the first person in the story and talking more about thoughts and feelings.
The teachers and school counselors have been pretty ready to embrace the trauma narrative. They do have students commonly writing about these kinds of personal stories. And so, they see that material coming from students anyway.
It's more structured to have them write about the story in this way and be able to deal with it in a structured fashion through the lessons than having students come in and bring their problems between classes or after school. So, I think they've been pretty comfortable with it. It's a format that seems to work for them.
We teach students how to solve social problems which are things happening at school, things with parents, things out in the community, so that they can work on those real-life problems and also approach things that they're avoiding and because of anxiety related to the trauma.
Excerpted from an interview at CBITS Summit 2012 in Santa Monica, CA.