We are always hearing about weather related disasters, whether it is a tornado in the Mid-West, flooding in the South or hurricanes on the East coast, but rarely do we think about counselors when we think about weather devastated areas. After the recent hurricane, Sandy, that battered the Northeastern US, natural disaster counselors have publicly spoken out http://ct.counseling.org/2012/11/sandys-aftermath-counselors-weigh-in-on-how-to-help/ educating the public as well as other counselors on how their services can be utilized.
Deb DelVecchio-Scully, Executive Director of the Connecticut Counseling Association and Licensed Professional Counselor explains 4 phases that weather trauma victims face.
1.Impact Phase-where natural disaster victims need mental and emotional assistance after the storm.
2.Rescue Phase-within the first week of the disaster, victims are either able to process and cope with the events but for some, the stress becomes overwhelming.
3.Recovery Phase-within the first month, victims begin assessing their lives and losses. She stresses the importance of the counselor's attending process during this time.
4.Returning to Life-starting anywhere from two weeks after the disaster and lasting upwards to four years, counselors need to be attentive to make sure victims are managing effectively based on their type of loss.
So many times we hear about grief counselors and we automatically think about the loss of life. We normally do not associate the loss of a home, a pet or our personal items due to Mother Nature with the field of counseling. But in fact, these losses are very devastating and just as important as any other of life's major upsets. During these times, not only will counselors be available to assist victims with disaster relief assistance, such as temporary housing and food, but they also can provide mental health assistance to victims of all ages.
With all the recent mass shootings covered by the local and national news, I am constantly hearing about grief counselors being available for those who want someone to talk to. After reading this article and discussing it with a fellow counseling graduate student, we both were amazed at the existence of natural disaster counselors and how little they are talked about in the media. Having personally gone through a category 4 hurricane, Hugo, when I was a child, I remember being scared but not able to express my feelings to the adults around me. Thinking back, I would have loved to have access to someone who could have spoken to me and found out what my needs as a child victim were. If that's how I feel now about that experience, I can only imagine how beneficial this service would be to victims of present day weather related disasters.