Resilience First Aid Series: Community Crisis Response with David Schonfeld, MD

Resilience First Aid Series: Community Crisis Response with David Schonfeld, MD

Crisis and loss are common in the lives of youth, whether due to a death or crisis involving their individual family or one that affects the entire community. These experiences can have a significant impact on functioning and the capacity to learn which can be supported with relatively simple accommodations, in the classroom and beyond. It can also have a long-term impact on their social and emotional development that can be lessened with appropriate support.

Educators, service providers, and other community adults play a vital role in providing important support to youth. This support promotes their understanding of the event, helps them learn coping strategies to accelerate adjustment and minimize their distress, and minimizes maladaptive coping mechanisms and behavioral difficulties.

Yet most educators and other caring adults have had limited to no professional training in how to support students in the aftermath of crisis and loss. This workshop will help community adults learn skills in how to talk with and support individual students or the entire class/school as they struggle to understand and cope with a crisis or loss in their lives. Implications for adult crisis and loss also will be explored.

The presenter, Dr. David Schonfeld, established and directs the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at the University of Southern California School of Social Work. He will draw on over 30 years’ experience in pediatric bereavement and school crisis response to provide examples and answer questions from participants.

Learning Objectives

Teaching strategies include lecture, audiovisual materials, discussion and Q&A. By participating in the session, participants will be able to:

  • Initiate conversations with youth in the aftermath of a crisis or after the death of a family member or friend

  • Understand the importance of psychological first aid and basic supportive services to promoting adjustment after a crisis

  • Outline the common symptoms of adjustment reactions that may occur in response to a crisis

  • Discuss the role of guilt in impacting adjustment to a loss or crisis

  • Outline the timeline for adjustment for children and teens after a crisis event

  • Be able to provide practical advice on issues such as funeral attendance of children and appreciate the importance of long-term follow-up after a significant loss or crisis

  • Describe grief and trauma triggers and advise on how to minimize their impact in a school or community setting, as well as other socio-emotional accommodations

  • Consider issues of professional self-care when supporting others who are grieving or adjusting to a crisis event

  • Know how to access free professional development resources on bereavement

  • Discuss the benefits and challenges of different means of commemoration and memorialization after community loss

  • Identify the unique challenges of leadership in the aftermath of a crisis event


David J Schonfeld, MD, FAAP, Director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement and a member the American Academy of Pediatrics Disaster Preparedness Advisory Council, is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and professor at the University of Southern California and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He served as a Commissioner for both the National Commission on Children and Disasters and the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, and is Past President of the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. The author of over 100 scholarly articles, book chapters, and books, he has conducted extensive research involving school-based interventions to promote adjustment and risk prevention, and provided consultation and training on youth bereavement in the aftermath of numerous school crisis events and disasters within the United States and abroad.


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