The first anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is less than two months away, and, starting Friday, Professionals United For Parkland is offering a series of workshops to help the MSD community prepare for traumatic reactions associated with the milestone.
"Research shows that about 4 to 6 weeks before the anniversary date, people might start having reactions that they had closer to the trauma event," says Luna Medina Wolf, a therapist and vice president of Professionals United For Parkland. "Even people who went through therapy and received help may start experiencing similar reactions—such as anxiety, maybe some flashbacks, some night terrors, or just feeling on edge."
The workshops are lead by Deb Del Vecchio-Scully, a trauma specialist based in Connecticut. She worked at Sandy Hook Elementary School and she's been training therapists in South Florida to respond to the shooting in Parkland.
Del Vecchio-Scully says anniversaries around communal traumas have their own rhythm that can be hard on survivors. "There'll be more media talking about it. You're going to see covers of People magazine, covering this again," she says. "So there [isn't] any downtime or escape from it because of the reminders."
The sessions will explain how to recognize anniversary reactions, and they'll offer strategies for handling those symptoms. The four-day event will be tailored to different groups within the MSD community:
Friday, Jan. 4 - All professionals invited to learn more about anniversary reactions and traumatized grief.
Registration is free here: http://www.pu4p.org/events/20190104-communal-trauma/
Saturday, Jan. 5th – Exclusive session for therapists working with survivors of the MSD shooting.
Registration is $50.00 here: http://www.pu4p.org/events/20190105-communal-trauma/
Sunday, Jan. 6th - Interactive Q&A for the Parents of MSD Students.
"Attendees will learn about the healing trajectory following a school shooting and the impact of communal trauma, commonly experienced reactions including triggers and effective coping strategies for the entire family. There will be time for discussion, questions and answers." Registration is free here: http://www.pu4p.org/events/20190106-communal-trauma/
Monday, Jan. 7th - A retreat closed to MSD teachers and staff. Along with training on anniversary reaction, there will be raffles, giveaways and opportunities for massages and relaxation techniques. Details available through school.