World Trade Center Disaster
Victims Crisis Counseling
you focused and dealing with grief and mourning
I extend my
sympathy, prayers and assistance to all people suffering from the aftermath of
the events of September 11.
Human beings can have emotional reactions to any
demanding and stressful event, especially an event such as the attack upon and
destruction of the World Trade Center. It is often difficult to take care of
yourself in the middle of such a crisis especially if your attention is focused
upon the basic needs of safety, work, food, clothing and shelter. To help
minimize stress and assist people in managing and recovering from stress related
to the recent traumatic events that they have experienced, I offer
over-the-phone counseling assistance.
You can help yourself cope with reactions though self-care. Self-care can
enhance your emotional stamina and help you begin to return your life to some
semblance of normalcy.
Examples of Self-care
- Stay away from mood-altering substances.
- Get plenty of rest if you can.
- Eat well-balanced meals
- Practice stress reduction techniques:
- deep breathing
- progressive relaxation
- Be aware of "survivor guilt."
- Give yourself permission to feel bad
- Schedule it in your day.
- Let yourself cry.
- Give yourself permission to feel good.
- Make small decisions daily to get control of your life back.
- Put off major life decisions, if possible.
- Give yourself permission to focus on someone outside yourself.
- Remind yourself that your reactions are normal
- Engage in practices that are meaningful to you, such as:
- walk in woods
- sitting quietly
- reading inspirational material
- journal writing
Coaching in person, via phone and via email.
Remarks from 'satisfied customers'.
"When I got sick, ANKE guided me through the labyrinth of confusion
and always insisted on my taking my 'two cups of joy a day.' despite everything."
She never stopped believing in me."
"ANKE knows how to cut through the
She taught me how to stay focused on my strong points and how to improve my weaker points in the process.
I can continue now!
"I first needed to see what I was really doing
before I could change my condition. ANKE helped me to see this in her own
subtle way. She hits the nail on the head. She is able to see the big picture
and keep things in perspective."
'Contentment is not
a state to arrive at but a manner of traveling'
Helping Children Cope with Trauma
Children and youth, as well as adults, will have
feelings about the attacks at the World Trade Center for a long time. Our
feeling create our experience. It may be tempting to try to put these feelings
out of our minds or think that kids won't be affected, but young people need to
be able to openly express their feelings of shock, fear, anger, denial, guilt,
or depression. How we help children deal with grief and loss determines how they
will develop coping skills as they mature.
here are some things worth remembering :
- Listen to them, but don't force them to share; let it
come naturally. One of the most important needs after a trauma is to talk
about the event - often. It may be difficult for you to hear about, or you
may tire of hearing the same story, but talking is a crucial part of
recovery. Be supportive and sympathetic, but avoid overreacting. Don't try
to make it okay; let them express fears, thoughts, and worries.
- Give honest information about the tragedy and deaths
based on the child's maturity level. Always be truthful. Avoid euphemisms
with children. Tell the child that someone died rather than saying someone
"went to sleep" or "went away" because younger children
will wonder when they are coming back or be hurt that they left without
- Keep all promises you make to your child during the
crisis. In other words, do not make promises you cannot keep. It is
important that your child can count on you when all else is in chaos.
- It's okay to tell your child that you don't have all
the answers to his or her questions. Validate their thoughtful questioning.
- Be available to talk to your kids. Talk about the
loss/trauma as a family. Sharing can be very healing for everyone. Silence
can make children feel isolated, and may convey the message that they should
limit their grieving.
- Like adults, children grieve at their own pace.
Respect where they are in that process.
- Allow the child to express all the emotions he or she
is feeling. Children need to know that their feelings are normal grief
feelings even though they might not be normal feelings under other
circumstances. If feelings such as anger or guilt persist for many months,
professional help might be necessary to help them resolve those feelings.
- Very young children who may not have the verbal
skills to express their feelings may express them through other means such
as play-acting and/or drawing. Help them name what they are expressing.
- Older children are drawn together in situations of
tragedy and will draw strength and support from each other. Give liberty to
teenagers around how they make themselves feel better, e.g. turning the
stereo on loud, talking on the phone more than usual to their friends. Allow
them privacy (both in physical space and to deal with their feelings) if
they need it.
- Death in a child's life is inevitable and means
different things to children at different ages. Young children (ages 1-5)
grieve for the threat to their security, while children six years of age and
older grieve more for the actual loss.
- If children indicate in any way that they want help
or counseling, get it for them immediately. Most children are hesitant to
ask openly for formal counseling, so if this happens, consider it a blatant
cry for help.
- Don't expect your child to take care of your fears,
i.e. don't keep your child home from school because you are afraid to be
separated from him or her. Find help to cope with your fears.
For more information, contact your
employee assistance program (EAP), a counselor, or talk with me at 1 425 828
How a Company Can Respond to a National Disaster
During times of national emergency it is important for employers to provide
compassionate responses to employee's concerns. As a company your main goals are
- Facilitate a sense of security
- Normalize stress reactions.
- Provide a forum for employees to vent thoughts and emotions.
- Provide education about common reactions to traumatic events.
- Provide information on additional resources.
Best practices to reach these goals are outlined below:
1. Facilitate Informational Meetings
These meetings need to be facilitated by company representatives who can
remain objective to the best of their ability and who can allow for employees'
strong reactions. Taking an objective stance will allow employees a sense of
safety. These meetings will provide a sense of structure, which also facilitates
a sense of well being.
2. Point to Resources
At this crucial moment, the role of the workplace is to point employees to
the resources that are available to them. Group and community support can go a
long way in providing a sense of hope and safety. Remind employees about the
Employee Assistance Program. Employees can also be reminded of other resources,
such as places of worship, loved ones, friends and neighbors. You can also
brainstorm with employees about any resources they identify.
Communication is essential. People can gain a sense of security through
information. Allow employees assess to information via radio and television.
Designate one or more "point persons" in the organization that
employees can go to for information. Provide formal communication to employees
as needed. Facilitate phone access for employees in order to call family
4. Interruption Of Productivity And Interventions
At this time, it is important to anticipate that it can not be business as
usual for your company. Employees will be distracted and may have a sense of
danger and lack of overall safety. Expect that productivity will be low. Some
employees will find comfort in the structure of work. Other employees may be
more reactive and may need to go home to be with loved ones. There may be some
employees who are more overwhelmed.
These persons may need professional attention and can be directed to call the
EAP on their own. Any employee can meet with an EAP provider in the area.
Employers should allow for this range of employee needs. Identify your business
priorities and communicate these to your employees.
5. A Suggested Agenda for Meeting with the Employees
Step 1. Designate a meeting place and convene group meetings with employees
- Limit groups to 15 employees.
- Groups can be by department.
- Limit meeting to 30 minutes.
Step 2. Discuss objective of meeting:
- To review current facts of the situation.
- To review information as it pertains to the company ( if applicable).
- To allow employees to vent their responses.
- To educate about stress reactions.
- To educate about company resources and plan.
Step 3. Meeting
- Review events and facts.
- Allow employees to vent emotions and thought.
- Employees will have reactions that from anger to shock. Expect and support
this wide range of responses.
- Encourage employees to speak one at a time.
- Distribute EAP handouts on stress reactions and self care.
- Remind employees of company safety protocols.
6. Company Response to the Greater Community
The employer can create as sense of hope by developing avenues of actions.
What can your organization do to help mobilize the community? How can you be of
help? Companies can call local community organizations to offer assistance as
dictated by the needs of the organization. Donations and financial assistance
can be made available to organizations, families or individuals.
After a National Disaster: Stress Reactions in the Work
Common reactions which you may notice in yourself or in coworkers may include
some of the following:
- Being afraid to return to the work place or being concerned about physical
safety in the work environment.
- Changing regular work routines to avoid physical reminders of the
- Experiencing flashbacks of trauma which are triggered by sights, sounds
and smells in the environment.
- Decreasing time spent at work through sick leave, vacations and
- Questioning whether or not to remain at the present job or even the
- Being distracted from the task at hand (which can lead to accidents or
- Deteriorating work performance and customer relations.
- Wondering whether they are competent to perform their job
- Questioning when things will get back to normal.
- Feeling isolated, as if others do not appear to be as affected as they are
by the incident.
- Feeling angry about the behavior of coworkers.
- Breakdown in the sense of professionalism on the job.
- Loss of a sense of humor.
- Withdrawing from a previous relationship with colleagues.
Disaster Stress Reactions
You have been exposed to a disaster like a tornado, you may have exceeded the
demands of day-to-day “normal” life. Your response to this event can be
influenced by several factors, such as:
- The type of event and its severity
- Your current life situation
- Your level of responsibility during the event
- Your previous experience in personal crisis
- How physically close you were to the event
- How you were taken care of during the event
- How psychologically close you were to the event
- The availability and continuation of emotional support
After an disaster it is natural to experience some "after shock" or
a stress reaction. These are normal responses and are the way we process a
demanding life experience. If these responses do not diminish over time it is
important that you seek the help of a friend, trusted coworker, loved one or a
professional counselor or your physician. Some typical stress responses can
- Upset stomach
- Feeling uncoordinated
- Profuse sweating
- Chest pains*
- Rapid heart beat*
- Increased blood pressure*
- Sleep disturbance
- Rapid breathing
- Muscle aches
* Check out these symptoms at a hospital
- Slowed thinking
- Fearful thoughts
- Memory problems
- Distressing dreams
- Illogical thinking
- Memory flashbacks
- Intrusive thoughts
- Poor judgment
- Change in perceptions
- naming objects
- making decisions
- learning new material
- Feeling lost or abandoned
- Feeling isolated
- Worry about self and/or others
- Wanting to hide
- Reduced feelings of pleasure
- Crying spells
- Extreme hyperactivity
- Change in activity
- intake of food
- sexual activity
- drug use
- need for safety
- Overly vigilant
- Avoiding change in:
- social patterns
Employers who wish to establish an EAP program with over-ther-phone crisis
counseling for employees are invited to call me at
1 425 828 6774.
Thank you for your time.
How to order my books
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van de WAAL
Harbor Lights Building, 515 Lake Street South, Suite 203,
Kirkland, WA 98033
http://www.TwoCupsofJoy.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 425-828-6774 - fax: 425-827-5528
Copyright 2000, ANKE van de WAAL. All rights reserved.