Seminar Detail

2-Day: Cracking the Behavior Code: High Impact Trauma-Informed Strategies for Challenging, Oppositional & Aggressive Students

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 - Thursday, December 6, 2018

This event is not currently available for purchase.

For more information: Call (800) 844-8260
Course Description:

You’ve seen it – a kindergartner who screams “You hate me” and pushes other kids; a student who makes a threat and may need an alternative placement; a student with a frantic fight or flight response who throws things when he is frustrated.

It’s time to optimize effective ways to understand and address students’ seemingly intractable behavior.

Join Dr. Nancy Rappaport as she presents a comprehensive, accessible, and flexible framework for practical intervention with traumatized children and adolescents. As the author of the influential book The Behavior Code: A Practice Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students, Dr. Rappaport will share her method for understanding and improving behavior in challenging students which looks at the function of the behavior, accommodations, interventions, and nurturing responses to traumatized children.

You will also learn how to implement a comprehensive school safety assessment approach that allows schools to work with mental health professionals to prevent school violence and get students the support they need. This model allows schools to address concerns about students’ potential for targeted violence and make recommendations to enhance safety, connection, and engagement. Dr. Rappaport will have interactive case discussions that help participants practice and reinforce critical process of assessment and design a care plan.

  1. Describe why traditional behavior plans of reward and consequences often do not work for students with challenging behavior.
  2. List at least 6 concrete strategies for building underdeveloped skills that impact behavior.
  3. Evaluate trauma’s impact on behavior and implement strategies for creating a trauma-sensitive environment in your school.
  4. Design communication strategies for difficult conversations with families about challenging behaviors to defuse potential conflict.
  5. List the 4 functions of challenging behavior and the tools to build the corresponding missing skills.
  6. Demonstrate the Behavior Code approach to analyze a case and consider the appropriate interventions for a child with self-defeating disruptive behavior in school.
  7. Identify key questions to ask when assessing potentially concerning behavior and determining how to intervene effectively.
  8. List the components of a comprehensive safety assessment model and why they are necessary for determining student risk of acting on threat.
  9. Characterize behavior that is within typical development range such as power struggles with authority and impulsivity from concerning behavior such as increasing desperation or agitation.
  10. Develop concrete ways using creativity, humor and empathy to foster resilience and fuel a sustained commitment to working with challenging students.
  11. Identify students who do and do not pose an imminent threat of targeted violence to themselves and others to create a safe school climate.
  12. Apply key factors to maintaining one’s resilience to fuel a sustained commitment when working with challenging students.

Trauma’s Impact on Learning and Behavior
  • 3 ways trauma affects learning
  • 4 paradigm shifts and strategies to better engage students
  • Create a trauma-sensitive classroom environment
Cracking the Behavior Code
  • 4 SOS tips for challenging behavior
  • Address skill deficits that often underlie challenging behavior
Building a Toolkit to Tailor Individual Education Plans
  • The FAIR plan approach to deciphering behavior and developing an effective plan:
    • Determining the function of behavior
    • Accommodation to change the behavior
    • Interventions to stop a negative cycle
    • Response to an agitated student
  • 4 functions of challenging behavior
Strategies for Teaching Skills & Changing Behavior
  • Manage transitions and previewing
  • Concrete tools, apps, and checklists
  • Embedding choice in instruction
  • Self-calming techniques
  • Classroom-wide strategies to improve self-monitoring
Building Relationships
  • Effective strategies for interacting with challenging students/parents
  • Approaches to difficult interactions with role playing
  • Effective responses to diffuse challenging behavior
  • Breaking the cycle of power struggle – improve communication
Key Concepts on School Violence – Safe School Initiative
  • School violence in context
  • Critical questions for comprehensive evaluation
  • Differentiate between typical vs. concerning behavior
Threat/Safety Assessment and Intervention
  • Step-by-step approach to evaluating threats and intervening
  • Comprehensive assessment components
  • Prioritize risk factors without profiling students
  • Differentiate between transient threats of substantive threats
Case studies will be featured allowing for small group discussion of highly relevant cases that draw from Dr. Rappaport’s 25 years of experience consulting for schools. Each vignette or video will reinforce the content of the lecture while also allowing participants to learn from each other. We will also have time to apply this approach to participants’ own challenging students.

  • A kindergartner who roams the classroom and unexpectedly hits other students, has prolonged episodes of crying, and runs out of the classroom
  • A senior in high school who has missed over 30 days of school and was caught plagiarizing
  • A middle school student who said, “The real way to be noticed is to get a gun and shoot people”
Dr. Nancy Rappaport will share her work regarding safety assessments in schools. She will discuss the importance of:
  • Establishing a district safety assessment team to respond to potentially dangerous behavior
  • Identifying students who do and do not pose an imminent threat of targeted violence to themselves and others
  • Creating a school climate that helps prevent violent behavior through positive behavioral intervention
  • Recognizing the role that social media can play in generating risky behavior
Learn why Student Support Teams (SST), lock down procedures, and ALICE training are not enough!
Target Audience

  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Counselors
  • Teachers
  • School Administrators
  • Principals
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Other Helping Professionals who Work with Children


Dr. Nancy Rappaport is a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist and is a part-time associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Her research, teaching, and clinical expertise focus on the collaboration between education and psychiatry. Working as a science teacher at an innovative elementary school in Harlem, NY where she advocated for support for struggling families was a life-altering experience and inspired her to enter medical school. Dr. Rappaport received the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Sidney Berman Award for the School-Based Study and Treatment of Learning Disorders and Mental Illness in 2012. She also received Cambridge Health Alliance’s Art of Healing Award in 2013 – an award given to one who “transcends boundaries, joyfully embraces humanity, and profoundly inspires the healing of body and spirit.” Rappaport is the author of The Behavior Code: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Most Challenging Students, written with behavioral analyst Jessica Minahan. One reviewer notes that “The Behavior Code gives teachers the tools to transform the behavior patterns of some of their most challenging students. By using this essential book, teachers – instead of punishing or ‘writing off’ troubled students – can get them onto a path for success.” Rappaport is also the author of the memoir In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother’s Suicide, winner of the Boston Authors Club’s 2010 Julia Ward Howe Prize.

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Nancy Rappaport has an employment relationship with Cambridge Health Alliance. She is an author for Harvard Ed Press and receives royalties. Dr. Rappaport receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Non-financial Nancy Rappaport is a Distinguished Fellow for the American Psychiatric Association; the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; and the Massachusetts Medical Society.
Credits listed below are for full attendance at the live event only. After attendance has been verified, pre-registered attendees will receive an email from PESI Customer Service with the subject line, “Evaluation and Certificate” within one week. This email will contain a link to complete the seminar evaluation and allow attendees to print, email or download a certificate of completion if in full attendance. For those in partial attendance (arrived late or left early), a letter of attendance is available through that link and an adjusted certificate of completion reflecting partial credit will be issued within 30 days (if your board allows). Please see “live seminar schedule” for full attendance start and end times. NOTE: Boards do not allow credit for breaks or lunch.

If your profession is not listed, please contact your licensing board to determine your continuing education requirements and check for reciprocal approval. For other credit inquiries not specified below, or questions on home study credit availability, please contact or 800-844-8260 before the event.

Materials that are included in this course may include interventions and modalities that are beyond the authorized practice of mental health professionals. As a licensed professional, you are responsible for reviewing the scope of practice, including activities that are defined in law as beyond the boundaries of practice in accordance with and in compliance with your professions standards.

The planning committee and staff who controlled the content of this activity have no relevant financial relationships to disclose. For speaker disclosures, please see speaker bios.

PESI, Inc. offers continuing education programs and products under the brand names PESI, PESI Healthcare, PESI Rehab and Psychotherapy Networker.

This intermediate activity consists of 12.5 clock hours of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. Please save the course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from the activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.

Massachusetts Counselors: CE credit is available. This program has been approved for 12.5 Category 1 MaMHCA/MMCEP hours for re-licensure, in accordance with 262 CMR. Expires: 10/02/2019. Full attendance is required; no partial credits will be offered for partial attendance.

This course is designed to qualify toward your professional development requirement. The program is 12.5 clock hours in length.

Massachusetts School Personnel: This course may be applicable for 12.5 Professional Development Points toward your Professional Development Plan per the Massachusetts Department of Education recertification guidelines; check with your licensing authority for more information.

Marriage & Family Therapists
This activity consists of 760 minutes of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. You should save this course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from the activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.

Massachusetts Marriage & Family Therapists: This activity has been certified by NEAFAST on behalf of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health & Human Services Professions, for LMFT professional continuing education. Full attendance at this activity qualifies for 12.5 contact hours. Certification #: PC-PC- 034329.

Occupational Therapists & Occupational Therapy Assistants
PESI, Inc. is an AOTA Approved Provider of continuing education. Provider #: 3322. Full attendance at this course qualifies for 12.5 contact hours or 1.25 CEUs in the Category of Domain of OT and Occupational Therapy Process. Partial credit will be issued for partial attendance. The assignment of AOTA CEUs does not imply endorsement of specific course content, products, or clinical procedures by AOTA. Course Level: Intermediate.

This activity consists of 6.0 clock hours of continuing education instruction. The following state psychologist boards recognize activities sponsored by PESI, Inc. as an approved ACCME provider: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Certificates of attendance will be issued for you to submit to your state licensing board to recognize for continuing education credit.

PESI, Inc. is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. PESI, Inc. designates this live activity for a maximum of 6.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Pennsylvania Psychologists: CE credit is available. PESI, Inc. is approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology to offer continuing education for psychologists. Provider #PSY000211. PESI maintains responsibility for the program(s). This program qualifies for 12.5 continuing education hours.

Speech-Language Pathologists

This course is offered for 1.25 ASHA CEUs (Intermediate level, Professional area).

** Please note that Speech-Language Pathologists must complete the post-test and evaluation within two weeks of attending the live event if they would like their participation submitted to the ASHA CE Registry. Detailed instructions will be provided the day of the program under the Handouts section of the online program.

Social Workers
PESI, Inc., #1062, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. PESI, Inc. maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: January 27, 2017 - January 27, 2020. Social Workers completing this course receive 12.5 Clinical Practice continuing education credits. Course Level: Intermediate. Full attendance is required; no partial credits will be offered for partial attendance. A certificate of attendance will be awarded at the end of the program to social workers who complete the program evaluation.

Other Professions
This activity qualifies for 760 minutes of instructional content as required by many national, state and local licensing boards and professional organizations. Save your course outline and certificate of completion, and contact your own board or organization for specific requirements.

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