Counselors steer those affected by shootings to healing, growth
Published: July 30, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Men and women who help survivors of a tragedy such as the July 20 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., are often called "grief counselors" but should more accurately be described as "crisis responders." That's the view of Will Marling, executive director for the National Organization for Victim Assistance, based in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Va. Those who trained in this area respond to specific protocol, he said. The National Organization for Victim Assistance currently has teams at work in Aurora. According to Marling, their primary goal is to help people understand that their reactions -- often a broad range including anger, sadness and remorse -- are normal. "We help people confront trauma and get through it on their own," he told Catholic News Service July 27, adding that most everyone in a such situation will have a "post-traumatic stress reaction, but not everyone will develop a post-traumatic stress disorder, which prevents them from living life." Responders work with those who were at the scene when the shooting occurred, family members who may have been on the phone with a loved one when it happened, or someone who lost a friend or relative in the incident or was nearby when it occurred. Marling said responders primarily listen to what these people have gone through, affirm what they're feeling and then help them to predict and prepare for what they will feel down the road.
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