Tools for Healing Trauma in Kids and First Responders in Broward County
A pastor asks Belleruth about guided imagery and other healing techniques that can help their community cope after a school shooting.
I am a pastor, addictions counselor and mental health professional in Broward County, Florida.
We have just experienced the most horrific school shooting at one of our schools in Parkland, Fl.
What CD’s and techniques would be the most helpful, useful and practical to use in the days, weeks and months to come to help our community heal?
I have your Healing Trauma CD, which is my favorite, as it helped me heal from traumatic stress many years ago.
Is that enough? How can I help our devastated, stunned community cope? I have been a pastor for decades and this is the first time I feel overwhelmed.
A traumatized pastor
I'm very sorry you and your community have to go through this.
I’m glad the PTS imagery was a help to you, but I wouldn’t recommend that first. It will be too intense for most kids, faculty and families in the immediate aftermath of this horror.
Instead, I’d offer simple self-soothing/self-regulation imagery first - imagery for help with sleep, simple relaxation, breathing, anxiety reduction – you get the picture. The Guided Imagery Mix has brief tracks of simple self-relaxation tools. So does Anxiety & Panic. Relaxation & Wellness is good 16-minute guided imagery to work with.
Once people have a handle on getting their self-calming skills in place (because they’re going to be triggered a lot in the weeks and months to come), the Ease Grief, Healing Trauma, and Heartbreak imagery can be extremely helpful - for weeks and months to come.
Other things you can recommend to your kids and families to help their bodies re-regulate from the extreme biochemical and mood swings they’re going to experience - from alarm and terror states to numbness and dissociation and back again - would be yoga, massage therapy, Reiki, Healing Touch, Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, EFT and other tapping protocols, and David Berceli’s Trauma Release Exercises.
Helping families get involved in activism and community support services also helps to remediate some of the horror and turn around the helpless feelings into a sense of empowerment.
And I know you know this, but I’ll say it anyway. In your role as pastor, empathic human, and good listener, you are going to be absorbing hideous images from the stories you’ll be hearing. They have a cumulative impact, and it would be unusual if you did not get some degree of secondary trauma.
So you will need to take extra good care of yourself, or you won’t last as a healer yourself. You will need to use these techniques yourself, take breaks, lean on your own support systems, and stay aware of your own needs.
Just as an aside: in the past, our company has donated guided imagery audios (and now streaming pages) for situations like this - it was cassettes for Columbine and 9/11, then pages for VCU, the shootings in Tucson (Gabby Gifford), Newtown, and others.
We would be happy to do this for Broward County as well, but we know it's pointless if the school leadership, counselors, and mental health professionals are not behind it, recommending it, and encouraging people to use it.
We also know that, after this level of national publicity, the people in charge get flooded with offers of services, products, and volunteers, some of which are more trouble than they're worth and create more problems than they solve. So these offers are met with necessary skepticism and caution.
If you or your colleagues introduce this idea to the professionals in charge, and reassure them of our track record and legitimacy with trauma, (US Army, Veterans Admin, Red Cross recovery & relief efforts, etc) we would be happy to create and donate a streaming page of unlimited relaxation audios and guided meditations for the kids, teachers and parents of Broward County.
(Some decision makers may also need to be reassured that these meditations are psychologically and research based, and do not compete with Christian or Bible-based principles.)
Let me know. I wish you the best in the difficult weeks and months ahead. I'm glad you reached out. Feel free to touch base in the weeks to come.
Belleruth and the whole Health Journeys team