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Iliff Encourages Spiritual Care and Self Care for First Responders

September 17, 2013

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: M. Celeste Jackson

(Denver) – In the aftermath of massive flooding in Colorado, emotional care is critical for the first responder community — public safety, human services, health and relief workers — who provide care and services during an emergency.

“Trauma professionals are at risk for serious psychological problems, such as anxiety, depression, burnout, and suicide,” said Carrie Doehring, associate professor, pastoral care and counseling. “Although professionals have become increasingly aware of the value of spirituality as a resource for trauma victims and survivors, spirituality represents a potentially important resource for providers as well.”

“Feeling safe and accessing resources is the bottom-line here. 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 first responder community members practice self-care by making a phone call to a loved one or confidant, scheduling coffee with a friend and connecting on a social network such as Facebook can be significant in times of tragedy.

“Post-traumatic stress is very real for first responders to disasters. It’s good to pay attention to feelings, find sustaining spiritual practices, take one day at a time, and find community support. In the coming days, weeks and months, first responders need to be mindful of the situations we have endured as a community and seek to be supportive of one another.”

Professionals who begin feeling “stuck,” and overwhelmed by memories or fears often benefit from counseling assistance. There are several mental health resources that can offer assistance. 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:

  • Employer-offered employee assistance programs
  • American Association of Pastoral Counselors
  • County and community-based mental health services

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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