Caring for Our Students in Courses with Potentially Threatening Content

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We enjoy the challenge of teaching classes on gender and violence, including violence against women, psychology of trauma, and psychology of gender. Although various sources provide suggestions for teaching classes that provoke strong reactions in students (McCammon, 1995), we have found that one size does not fit all. Rather, we must first identify the needs and motivations of individual students, as well as the class dynamics that arise when students with different levels of trauma awareness begin interacting with each other and with us. We present here a typology of students' awareness drawn from our experience with classes on gender and violence. This typology may also apply to classes on racism and other challenging topics.