Volunteers wade through a flooded road against wind and rain caused by Hurricane Dorian to rescue families near the Causarina bridge in Freeport on Tuesday. (AP)
By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
A conglomerate of local psychologists and therapists are making plans to launch a crisis management counselling initiative that will provide assistance and support to those now dealing with the trauma of living through the horror of Hurricane Dorian.
The “necessary services”, according to Jenna Christie, a social worker and family therapist, will help to stabilise survivors, give them a sense of control, and restore some level of normalcy and hope to their lives.
Ms Christie, a trained welfare officer at that Department of Social Services, is one among several counsellors and clinical psychologists who have committed to offering their services as soon as the planned initiative is implemented. Once logistical details have been ironed out, the initiative will be launched immediately.
Ms Christie said crisis counselling is as crucial for survivors as having food and water.
“It is of the utmost importance. A lot of persons look at the basic, tangible, physical items that they need, but they also need this,” she said.
“When you are in a traumatic event you are going through the stages of grief and people tend to think it is linear. But it is not. Persons are experiencing anger, distress, grief, even sometimes guilt that they survived and their loved ones didn’t. There is a lot of confusion going on, a lot of anxiety. Many of them are thinking, ‘What is my next move, where do I go?’."
“Everything they knew has been stripped away all at once, so that counselling is extremely important to help persons to build resiliency, and build upon what they already have within them."
Ms Christie said the crisis management initiative will offer a strength-based approach, empowering survivors and giving them control of their lives again.
“Right now a lot of these survivors are experiencing fear. Fear is one of the biggest things right now. Then they are also in denial about what has happened," she said.
“They talk about the looting that is happening, and these are all very fear-based responses to what is happening. We look at it and say, 'Why would people be doing that?' But we are on the outside looking in, and the level of desperation they are experiencing now is triggering these types of behaviours."
According to the American Counselling Association, crisis management should begin about three to five days after a traumatic incident.
“Sessions shouldn’t be too long – no more than an hour or two – because anything longer will become counterproductive, because the person now becomes overwhelmed," said Ms Christie. "However, this also depends on when a person is willing and ready to talk about what they are experiencing."
The proposed location for the initiative is the University of the Bahamas. More details about the crisis management counselling plan will be released in the coming days.