Being in a small, supportive group may lead to students feeling safe enough to speak about their past experiences. Some students may disclose sensitive or traumatic information.
This is part of their healing process; they may be looking for acknowledgement or seeking help. It is important that facilitators are aware of current policies regarding mandatory reporting, duty of care and school policies.
If a student seems about to disclose sensitive information in the group sessions, it may be appropriate to gently interrupt the student and offer to continue the conversation in private at that time or later.
If disclosure occurs the following approach is suggested:
Acknowledge the feeling generated by the event (e.g. “That must have been frightening for you”).
Affirm the difficulties or bravery in speaking about the event.
Acknowledge that those feelings have been felt by other students who have experienced a similar event.
Acknowledge that even though the circumstance of the event has passed and students are now safe, the memories can remain and may still be distressing.
Ask the student if there is anything further they would like to say about the event.
Suggest that if they would like to discuss anything further, you would be available at a later time.
Disclosures of a sensitive nature can provide opportunities to identify strategies for dealing with issues. A referral to the school counsellor may be an appropriate action for further support.
(Klassroom Kaleidoscope, Foundation House, The Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc 2007 pxiii)