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How-to Tips for Working with Psychiatric Barriers

The following are some basic tips for those working in educational or training settings.

  • Interpersonal strategies
  • Providing supports to students with psychiatric disabilities

Interpersonal strategies

  • Make personal contact to develop a working alliance with students.
  • When you don't know what to say, say nothing--listen.
  • Avoid advice and premature problem solving.
  • Do not assume you know the student’s feelings, thoughts, and reasons for behaviors.
  • Avoid relying on questions; attend, listen and try to summarize thoughts and feelings instead.
  • Be as clear and concrete as possible.
  • Separate the person from the problem.
  • Agreement does not equal empathy; disagreement does not mean disconnection.
  • A good working relationship does not require approval or shared values; you can have differences. How to deal with differences:
    • Balance reason and emotion
    • Demonstrate understanding
    • Use good communication techniques
    • Be consistent and reliable
  • Negotiation builds respect and works better than coercion.
  • Genius of good communication is to be at the same time as honest and as kind as possible.
  • Pay attention to gender and racial/ethnic issues.
  • Document your communications and interactions.
  • Know yourself:
    • Why do you teach?
    • What do you like/dislike about working with students?
    • With what emotions are you uncomfortable?
    • How will you deal with your students feelings for you?
    • What your "hot" buttons? Who can usually press them?

Providing supports to students with psychiatric disabilities

  • Identify presence of disability.
  • Maximize use of current, existing campus support services.
  • Recognize and anticipate periods of academic inactivity (stops-outs versus drop-outs).
  • Clarify campus policies regarding acceptable student and classroom behavior.
  • Identify and consult with school or college's disability services office and /or Section 504 officer.
  • Separate treatment issues from education issues.
  • Apply same behavioral expectations/code of conduct to students with psychiatric disabilities as you would any other student.
  • Help students to become aware of their behavioral responsibilities in the classroom by setting concrete guidelines and clear academic requirements.
  • Do not refer students with disabilities to support services in lieu of disciplinary measures. Referral to support services at the request of a student with a psychological disability who is disruptive is appropriate, but not as a disciplinary measure.

Created: March 10, 2009 @ 01:19 PM
Last Modified: March 17, 2009 @ 08:09 AM


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