One morning, a few days after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, a female client left me a voicemail just minutes before her 8 a.m. appointment. Her voice shook as she struggled to speak. An hour earlier, her son had showed her pictures on Twitter of a classmate posing with an assault rifle. The day before, this classmate had been beaten up for mocking students who cried after hearing about the Parkland attack. “I might be a little late to our appointment,” she said. “I’ve already spoken about this with the police, and I’m waiting for a call back from … Read More
Category: Mental Health Professionals
April 20, 2018
There is no such thing as “secondary trauma” to the nervous system. We use that term to help us know that the impact of working with traumatized people can be overwhelmingly stressful and needs our attention. And when you work with groups of people suffering from any form of collective trauma, such as battered women, refugees, the homeless, those displaced by war, etc., your own nervous system can easily feel not just stressed, but traumatized.
When working with these populations it is normal at times to feel overwhelmed, anxious, angry, hopeless or dissociated. These are all … Read More
(Originally published August 16, 2016)
Sociologist Kai Erikson’s definition of collective trauma is a blow or tearing, “to the basic tissues of social life that damages the bonds attaching people together and impairs the prevailing sense of community.” Those are strong words and yet apt for our world, and specifically, our American culture, today. These last few years the world as we have known it has been slowing changing, the social fabric most of us have known has been slowing tearing apart, and few of us feel as safe as we did not long ago and most of us can … Read More
(Originally published June 15, 2016)
When you look at the news, there’s pain and violence on every broadcast. But is this something we should help our clients process?
Patrick Dougherty would say yes. And he has some clear, helpful guidelines for how to bring up difficult and divisive political and social issues in therapy.
It’s one way we can help clients become more regulated and healthy as they interact and engage in their sphere of influence.
Patrick Dougherty, MA, LP, is a licensed psychologist, teacher, and author. He’s worked with collective trauma since shortly after serving with the Marines in … Read More