With Newtown anniversary upon us, time to heal is needed

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

A few years ago, I witnessed something important in treating and healing trauma. When I began to extend my counseling sessions to two or three hours, I suddenly saw miracles occurring.

My clients now had time to build trust in our relationship. Often in the final hour, they would share a deep secret or piece of information that was vital to their healing and to my ability to really help them.

In the context of a tragedy like the Newtown shootings, we need to offer the trauma victim time and space without constraints. I have seen people who experienced violating acts at very young ages, and 30 or 40 years later, their bodies still shake as if they were back in the exact moment in which the trauma occurred.

It has colored their entire lives: from cognition to communication; from relationships to work and health and from their entire belief system to their sense of self-worth. Someone who has witnessed a shooting and death around them needs to know that their world can be a safe place once again.

The entire town of Newtown was affected by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Just like the repercussions from September 11, symptoms of trauma often take a while to surface and even those who seemed to be fine post-Sandy Hook might find they are only now having difficulty functioning in their daily lives.

These days, my partner and I counsel people in increments of 10 days, five days or three days, for eight hours a day.

We know it would be impossible to achieve the results we see if we were simply counseling this person for an hour or 45 minutes a couple of times a week. As Dec. 14 approaches, we might want to consider the time frame we put around the sacred therapy hour and how, as professionals, we can truly create time to heal.

There is more information available online at Therapybeyondwalls.com.

Hope Stanger

The author is a holistic therapist with a counseling practice in Greenwich.

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