As I watch the news coverage of several disturbing stories, the OSU Rampage, the return of kidnap victims Sherri Papini and now the Oakland Ghost ship Warehouse fire, not only am I saddened by what I see, certain comments continue to jump out at me.
One OSU witness said he watched the suspect’s car hit three people before running inside for cover; he said his entire body is “still shaking.” Papini’s husband said it was gut wrenching for him to look at the abuse she had suffered and she jumps when she hears certain sounds and doesn’t want to sleep in the dark.
In Oakland, one area business man came upon two teenage boys who had escaped the fire and were huddled on his business doorstep crying – both clearly in shock. All three stories spoke to people who were both directly and indirectly impacted by a tragedy.
As an employer, if these were your employees, how can you support them?
Most people don’t realize that even when you are not directly impacted by an event, there can still be psychological effects; with some people possibly suffering from post-traumatic stress.
The degree to which a person reacts will depend on their past exposure to trauma and how they dealt with it. Most employers offer an Employee Assistant Program to help their struggling employees, which is a great start. However, sometimes employees need more and their response to therapy will vary by person.
For example, some will respond to therapy alone while others will need to work with multiple modalities to recover. Below are a list of well known and not so well known types of treatments that have been shown to support the healing process:
- Trauma Therapist with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – EMDR is considered a breakthrough therapy because of its simplicity and because it can bring fast and lasting relief. Currently EMDR is the most rapid and effective method for dealing with trauma.
- Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) – This type of program is different from a service animal that assists with the day to day functions of its owner. This type of therapy involves sufferers working or interacting with an animal to lower or alleviate fear and anxiety. Research shows, in some instances within a week, participants have a marked reduction in symptoms.
- Acupuncture – Acupuncture treatment has been successfully used to reduce stress and trauma. Acupuncture has been shown to be especially successful shortly after exposure to traumatic events, and can help prevent the development of post-traumatic stress (PTS), with longer treatment needed for sufferers of PTSD.**
- Theatre – This program is different from theater programs for actors. This type of therapy moves slowly with the goal of getting its frightened participants to become more “present and interactive” with their surroundings. Some victims are so traumatized that they feel disconnected from others, “lose their voice” and shut down. However, theatre is about letting go, having a voice through different roles and connecting with others.**
As an employer, your EAP may or may not offer these types of therapies. Additionally, your medical carrier may or may not cover them either, or they may consider them out of network requiring the employee to pay the entire cost of the treatment. If this is the case, I encourage your organization to consider adding a variety of covered therapies to your offerings.
This addition will result in a more happy, healthy and productive work force that is better able to cope with and more quickly “bounce back” from a variety of situations, including traumatic situations like the above.
*For more information, visit Acupuncturists Without Borders http://www.acuwithoutborders.org/
**For more information, visit the Accredited Schools – North America Drama Therapy http://www.nadta.org/education-and-credentialing/resources-for-students-and-bcts/accredited-schools.html