Individual Counseling Can Help Cope With Fears About Mass Shootings
Individual counseling at Take Charge, Inc. can help you and as you parent your children to manage complicated feelings and fears that arise around shootings. The recent school shootings have caused students, parents, teachers, relatives, and concerned community members to experience scary, complicated feelings about these tragedies, and it is important to talk about and understand them.
In addition to individual counseling, there are a few things you can do to help yourself and your family process their emotions and feel safe. But first you need to process your own feelings. Call a therapist, friend, or talk out your feelings with your spouse or partner. It is a good idea for you to take a break from social media and the news for a few days, so you are not continuously exposed to the traumatic events.
Talking About Tragedy
First, focus on being calm yourself. When you feel calm, listen to, and comfort your children. Remember that this is not something you can ever make sense of or fix for your kids, but it is important to be present for them.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), it is important to encourage your children to talk about their fears. Knowing that their caregivers are listening to them is beneficial to all children at every age. We all need to learn that suppression does not address the issues yet create more long-term consequences to the individual.
First, ask your children what they know about the tragedy. Crucially, you must not avoid talking about death and dying. If they convey information that is exaggerated or incorrect, share the accurate information with them gently and calmly.
Ask your children to think about all the helpers in their school and community and review their school’s safety plans. When your children have active shooter drills at school, talk about them afterward. These drills can be frightening in and of themselves.
Behavioral Changes to Watch For
Children’s communication and emotional processing skills are less developed that adults, which means they often express their thoughts and feelings differently. It is therefore important to watch for changes in behavior. A few behaviors that may indicate the need for individual counseling are:
- Increased nightmares
- Intrusive thoughts
- Abrupt changes in their mood – anxiety, sadness, depression
- Changes in play behavior such as playing guns or pretending to die
- Aches and pain in their bodies including stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Regressions in their development – increases in tantrums, bedwetting, clinginess
Individual Counseling Can Help
If you or your children are feeling panicked or anxious, therapy can be a safe, helpful place to discuss your fears and to learn ways to cope and feel better. It is important that we help ourselves and our children understand that our minds need care as much as our bodies, and that we avoid any stigma around mental health care when talking to them.
Terri uses Polyvagal Theory, Somatic Experiencing, and trauma informed therapy to help you find hope and healing. Terri has completed three years of Somatic Experiencing training, Polyvagal Theory training, and attachment-based training. With the combination of training, you can learn how to deal with your nervous system including your body symptoms, emotions, and thoughts.
For more information about counseling in Johnson County, KS, call Take Charge, Inc. at (913) 239-8255. To schedule an appointment, click here.
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