Schools Use Therapy-Based Programs for 'Overwhelmed' Kids

Dr. Elizabeth Koschmann, founder of Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students, or TRAILS, is quoted.

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In a school year that was supposed to be a return to normal but has proven anything but, the district has launched an educational program based on a key component of modern psychology — cognitive behavior therapy. Principles of this method are embedded in the curriculum and are part of the district’s full embrace of social and emotional learning.


Behavior specialist Eric Clark said the psychology-focused program the district has adopted, dubbed “TRAILS” by its University of Michigan creators, is helping everyone manage the challenges.

“We can’t control what’s coming at us, but we can control how we respond to it,” Clark said.


Studies have shown that social and emotional learning programs can improve academic performance, classroom behavior and stress management. Research also suggests TRAILS lessons for at-risk kids can reduce depression and improve coping skills.

Almost 700 U.S. schools have paid contracts to receive support and implement the program. Its website provides free online materials that are downloaded more than 2,000 times daily, and users come from all over the world, said Elizabeth Koschmann, a University of Michigan researcher who developed the program. Those downloads have skyrocketed during the pandemic.

Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students - TRAILS - website

She said schools contact her almost daily, asking “how how they can possibly keep up with students who are falling apart, staff who are losing morale and experiencing tremendous burnout, and just a pervasive sense of exhaustion, despair, and hopelessness.”