Gatekeeper Training: Syracuse Shares Hands-on Experience
The train-the-trainer format gives trainees the experience of being a participant, since they complete the same kinds of activities they’ll eventually lead as trainers.
Ms. Pasco and her team conduct five or six different exercises with the trainees. “The most important one is role playing,” she said. “They play the student in crisis and other participants practice responding and interacting.”
Other exercises include “Personalizing Crisis,” where the people in the workshop reflect back on a time when they were in a crisis and share some of the emotions they had as well as some of the helpful and less than helpful things that people around them did.
“This exercise helps gatekeepers remember that being in crisis is a human experience, because you don’t want gatekeepers being very detached from the students that they’re trying to help,” Ms. Pasco explained. “You want them to have compassion and understanding.”
After the training is complete, SU is available to the new trainers to answer questions about their own gatekeeper training program. Typical topics include who will be the most appropriate gatekeepers on their campus.
In addition, Ms. Pasco said, SU staff talk about how they handle issues such as policies around mandated assessments for students who present with suicidal ideation, including how to get them into the counseling center. “We don’t address specific cases, but we help them think through their policies and protocols for responding to student emergencies,” she said.
According to Ms. Pasco, the key is that if a situation arises that involves suicidal thoughts or behavior, gatekeepers need to know who to contact to help figure out the best way to intervene. “Gatekeepers never should be the ones making those decisions on their own,” Ms Pasco emphasized. “That’s why it’s so important to have a system in place regarding how you’re going to handle when somebody does present with a suicidal crisis, because you don’t want to leave your gatekeepers alone out there.”
Find out more about SU’s Campus Connect program.
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