Spiritual & Self Care Encouraged in Wake of Colorado Tragedy
July 20, 2012
(Denver) – Best-practices of spiritual first aid are encouraged by professionals of the Iliff School of Theology (Iliff), as Coloradoans and others nationwide try to make sense of the shootings that occurred in a Colorado movie theater in the early hours of July 20.
“Feeling safe is the bottom-line here,” said Carrie Doehring, Ph.D., associate professor, pastoral care and counseling and a licensed psychologist. “In the aftermath of catastrophe, it’s important that we’re offering spiritual care to people who are reeling from this tragedy. In the simplest terms, this means connecting with people, listening and extending ordinary acts of kindness.”
Doehring suggests that simple acts, such as making a phone call, scheduling coffee with a friend, or connecting on a social network such as Facebook, can be significant in times of tragedy.
“As we move forward and begin working to heal the community emotionally and spiritually, much work will be done to support people in re-experiencing goodness and compassion, as well as regaining a sense of safety psychologically and spiritually,” added Doehring.
“Post-traumatic stress is a very natural part of responding to experiences of violence. It’s good to pay attention to feelings and not get fully immersed in things that threaten one’s sense of safety. In the coming days, weeks and months, we need to be mindful of the situations we have endured as a community and seek to be supportive of one another.”
While the shootings took place in Aurora, Colo., a Denver suburb, people in communities throughout the state are gathering to lament the senseless act and are turning to leaders in broad-spectrum disciplines, from law enforcement to political, religious and spiritual for information, context, peace and resolution.
“We must be very respectful of the unique ways people experience violence,” Doehring said. “Everyone copes in their own way.”
Doehring suggests the following soothing tools for post-traumatic events:
• Prayer – as a common spiritual resource
• Talking – with others about feelings and emotions
• Spending time – with family and friends
• Spending time – with household pets
• Going outdoors
“We have learned so much through the public tragedies that we have faced in the recent past, commented Doehring. “In the face of public loss, we need to be mindful that many people have had experiences of violence and these memories can be quite powerful.”
“People who begin feeling stuck, and overwhelmed by memories or fears often benefit from counseling assistance. There are several mental health resources that can assist you, including many low-cost options. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network and resources including Pastoral Counselors, Spiritual Counselors, mental health practitioners, including Licensed Clinical Social Workers, are trained to provide post-traumatic stress care.”
Doehring suggests the following resources:
• Denver-metro Mental Health Resources
• American Association of Pastoral Counselors
• County and community-based mental health services
• Employer-offered employee assistance programs
The Iliff School of Theology is a graduate theological school related to the United Methodist Church, serving more than 38 different faith traditions. Founded in 1892, the school provides several degree programs, including a Joint Ph.D. Program with the University of Denver.
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