Green Cross Newsletter July 2011
Happenings Since our last Newsletter: By Dr. Daniel Casey, CT, Executive Director, GCAT
Since March, we have been on alert for deployment to Japan for the earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear fall out.
We have received a donation of $1000.00 from the United Eastside Church of Tallahassee Church in Florida, specifically for the Japan deployment. We have also received a donation of $232.00 from Rev. Trish Hall from Celebration Center for Spiritual Living in Falls Church, VA. And another donation of $150.00 from our GCAT President Mary Schoenfeldt. We want to send out a special thank you to our donators. An interesting note from Charles stated that because of his work with Japanese Professionals, “everyone now going to the disaster zone (all Japanese professionals) must read and follow the Green Cross standards of self care.” He states, “The money will be well used, but not yet.”
We are currently deployed to Minot North Dakota following the floods that have occurred and are still raging there.
Our active Membership has grown to nearly 300 persons over the last few months. Some of this is due to training and certification, to renewals of memberships, and for the possibility of deployment to Disasters.
Green Cross has been invited to join in the Citizens Corps EXPO Disaster Scenario in the State of Washington. We will be providing training prior to the Expo Exercise, (under the auspices of UMTTI) as well as serving as the main mental health unit serving the disaster scenario.
Our office has been busy with registration and certification issues, as well as working with five (5) sites that wish to be recognized as GCAT Training sites. Some of the present sites listed on our web site have been inactive, or not providing training, and have been put on notice of their standby rating.
Institutionalized Trauma on the Micro Level Presents a Mega Risk
When you hear the word trauma most minds leap to events like Japan, Haiti, even September 11th. As a professionally trained Traumatologist, trauma often means megaevents. These events are usually out of the ordinary, unexpected, and unique. But what happens when trauma becomes common place in the life of untrained helpers? Foster parents who work with traumatized children seldom have training in self care and compassion fatigue. However, they are routinely exposed to the same vicarious exposure that first responders encounter. Foster parents are at high risk for compassion fatigue.
Professionals in counseling and trauma are first trained to comprehend the insidious nature of secondary traumatic stress. Your training includes an ethical standard of selfcare and supervision to prevent harm to yourself and to clients. Your accountability partners help you stay aware and focused. But for foster parents, such training is absent. These under trained trauma workers experience emotional contagion on a daily basis, as if trauma is a naturally occurring event. These unique helpers can often become first responders to their children as latent trauma symptoms begin to emerge. In their role as surrogate parents foster parents connect on the deepest levels of love and empathy without the sense of detachment necessary to selfprotect from secondary traumatic stress. Once initially placed in a foster home, after a brief “honeymoon” period, traumatized children begin to act out their trauma in bizarre and overt ways. It is at this point that foster parents are then routinely exposed to emotional contagion as they struggle to connect with their “clients.”
Extensive research now exists supporting the nature and risk of compassion fatigue in the lives of first responders, professionals, and care child protection workers. A brief search of the available literature quickly yields vast amounts of compiled data. Yet direct research into the risk and impact of compassion fatigue on foster parents seems to be noticeably lacking. Pryce, Shackelford, and Pryce, (2007) found that staff in residential care facilities are routinely exposed to the same traumatized client population as are many foster parents. Findings indicate that the intense and protracted levels of exposure experienced by residential care workers result in an increase of compassion fatigue and burnout potential. Many workers feel that they are unable to gain the distance needed to maintain detachment. The proximity generated while working in a pseudo home environment denies professional distancing. Despite having weekends off, and homes of their own, many workers carry the emotional contagion with them while not directly working with their clients. The level of attachment to their clients is personal.
Foster parents share the same risk of exposure to emotional contagion and compassion fatigue as their counterparts in residential care. However, the unique environment of foster care amplifies proximity, and reduces opportunities for selfcare and detachment. Foster parents connect on a parenttochild level that often obscures objectivity, leading to sympathy, over identification, and counter transference—the very ingredients of secondary traumatic stress. It is likely that compassion fatigue is as commonplace in foster parents as it is in residential care workers and child protection workers while seldom reported. Constant exposure to traumatized children, hearing their stories daily, and being first on the scene when PTSD symptoms erupt certainly take a toll. Add to this the need to manage the aftermath of parental visits. Often these visits tend to trigger deep pain and fear for the child when the biological parent represents repressed abuse and loss. The aftermath of such a visit is enough to drive any foster parent into secondary traumatic stress.
As an increasing number of traumatized children enter foster care each year, foster parents report being overwhelmed by the difficulty of caring for their children. As a result, foster parent attrition averages only eight to eighteen months. Only a small percentage of foster parents exceed two years of experience. The needs of traumatized children understandably overwhelm under trained and unprepared foster homes. When a parent fails, the child is forced to move once more, adding loss on top of loss due to “placement failures.” Compounding the loss and trauma as a victim of abuse or neglect compelling removal from the biological home, a traumatic cultural confrontation with the system, the added stress of adapting to a new family, and the combined loss of family, friends, school, neighborhoods, and other familiar connections, foster children are overwhelmed by the time they reach a new foster home. Each time a placement fails, the cycle repeats itself, the wounds are reopened, and the child once again must face a loss. All this trauma has built up in a small child, and must come out at some point. When it does, few foster is parents are ready to deal with it. Research into the impact of trauma on the foster home, and the development of complete training as first responders needed if the cycle of failure is to end and healing of trauma is to begin.
The question that needs to be answered, who is best suited to meet the needs of this underserved group? I would suggest that those who have been have trained Traumatologists are indeed the most appropriate to come alongside this population. When not actively deployed as a first responder, I encourage those who have completed the Green Cross certifications to step up and present yourselves to the foster parents in your area. Become the compassion fatigue educator and therapist for a foster family or group of homes. This micromission is ever present, and your skills are sorely needed
Respectfully Submitted by:
Charles P. Carrington, MA
Executive Director, Families First Institute, Inc. Center for Foster Care Studies
Deepak Mostert is no stranger to trauma. Trapped in a burning building as a youth and later in a burning vehicle after an accident, he developed PTSD symptoms that went undiagnosed for years, hampering his ability to cope and fully engage in life. Because Deepak understands how debilitating the effects of trauma can be and how dramatically his life improved once he was finally treated, he passionately directed his life’s mission to ward “reducing the levels of trauma in the world”. A simple objective, but certainly not an easy one. The opportunity to put his purpose into practice on a large scale, however, came in 2006, after a 6.2 earthquake toppled the city of Jogyakarta in Java, Indonesia, killing close to 6,000 people and leaving 1.5 million homeless. A local NGO invited Deepak, by then a psychotherapist who was staying in Bali, to help set up a trauma program for schoolchil dren and villagers in the wake of the disaster.
Energy Psychology for Mass Trauma Upon arriving in the disaster zone, Deepak quickly realized that the small human resources at his disposal were no match for the widespread devastation. High levels of trauma, combined with the sheer number of people affected, needed a different approach than conventional personal or small group counseling sessions. Deepak decided to experiment with innovative approaches in the budding field of Energy Psychology, particularly Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), as the primary means of addressing the trauma. He knew EFT was very effective at bringing down the intensity of trauma and negative emotions in individuals. He suspected that using EFT as a tool, it would be possible to bring trauma survivors out of shock, train them to regain control of their emotions, and have the tools to reclaim their lives. Especially appealing in the wake of disaster, EFT was suitable to teach to large groups in a short time.
Working with groups of about 100 children at time through a translator, Deepak would ask how many of the kids were afraid of a new earthquake (100% raised their hand) and how many were afraid to go to sleep at night (80% raised their hand). He told them he would teach them “a game” that they could use whenever they felt this fear. He showed them, along with the teachers and parents, the different tapping points and they followed him in tapping and repeating phrases related to their strongest negative emotions. By the end of the session, Deepak saw the faces transform from somber to smiling. In the evenings, Deepak’s team would provide large group EFT sessions in community centers and at Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps. As a result of the trainings, many participants came out of their shock. The intensity of their emotions, such as helplessness, hopelessness, frustration, fear, anger, anxiety and sadness, were drastically reduced or eliminated completely. In addition, Deepak observed that a lot of anxietyrelated physical complaints also disappeared, such as headaches, sleeping problems and backaches. The overall effects of the techniques exceeded expectations, both of participants and even Deepak himself. Word about the benefits of the tapping and trauma program quickly spread.
Deepak’s team responded to requests to train staff and volunteers of local NGO’s government health workers and psychologists, students and teachers at the psychology faculty of the University Gadjah Mada (UGM), local social youth organizations, and religious schools, in addition to individual trauma relief sessions for the most severe cases. The primary observations he took away over the course of the 14 week program were: 1) The efficiency and effectiveness of using EFT in mass trauma situations; 2) The lack of adequate mental and emotional care in disaster situations; and 3) The lack of awareness about what trauma is, what the symptoms are, and the effect that trauma has on the survivors, their families, communities and the nation. Deepak saw a strong need poignant story is that of Tedi, a seven year of child who survived the Pangandaran earthquake.
Tedi had been playing on the beach with a friend when the earthquake struck. He ran into a house for safety, along with his friend and a sheep. A tsunami wave soon followed the earthquake, lifting the house up and dumping it further in schools in the 4 districts around Padang, reaching a total number of 377,214 students in just three weeks time. Case of Seven Year Old Tedi There are hundreds of stories of how people’s lives were turned around as a result of TREST Aid’s trauma relief work over the last six years. One particularly land in the jungle. When the water level receded, Tedi found himself trapped in the house, his sheep and friend dead. After spending two days trapped inside alone, he heard voices and called out for help. However, the people thought he was a ghost and ran away! Others returned a few hours later though and rescued element for a more permanent organization capable of providing effective trauma awareness and relief tools in natural disasterprone Indonesia. So a few months later in May 2007, he hung up his shingles in Jogyakarta and Trauma Relief and Emotional Support Techniques (TREST) Aid was born. It became the first humanitarian aid organization in the world to structurally utilize energy psychology for psychological disaster management. Refining the Methods and Extending the Reach Since then, TREST Aid has responded to six more major disasters in Indonesia, as well as the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, each time refining and improving the energy psychology methods and approach to address and relieve trauma. In 2009, for example, after a major disaster in Padang, Indonesia’s Minister of Education visited the Padang area and told his deputies that the number one priority must be to provide trauma relief to the schoolchildren in the effected areas.
Having heard about the work of TREST Aid, the provincial education department called on Deepak to confront this overwhelming task. This time, due to the nature of the devastation and a desire to reach even more people affected by trauma, Deepak opted for a trainthetrainer approach. Through this method, TREST Aid team trained and monitored 361 teacher trainers, who then trained 15,898 school teachers. The school teachers then executed a trauma training for all the primary and secondary schools in the 4 districts around Padang, reaching a total number of 377,214 students in just three weeks time.
Case of Seven Year Old Tedi
There are hundreds of stories of how people’s lives were turned around as a result of TREST Aid’s trauma relief work over the last six years. One particularly poignant story is that of Tedi, a seven year of child who survived the Pangandaran earthquake. Tedi had been playing on the beach with a friend when the earthquake struck. He ran into a house for safety, along with his friend and a sheep.
A tsunami wave soon followed the earthquake, lifting the house up and dumping it further inland in the jungle. When the water level receded, Tedi found himself trapped in the house, his sheep and friend dead. After spending two days trapped inside alone, he heard voices and called out for help. However, the people thought he was a ghost and ran away! Others returned a few hours later though and rescued element Tedi. Unsurprisingly, Tedi developed severe trauma symptoms as a result of these events. He had sleeping problems, nightmares and wet his bed. During the day he would not let his mother out of his sight and he disliked going to school, where he had problems concentrating, was restless and would wet himself after any sudden disturbance, especially sudden noises. He isolated himself and would not play or interact with his former friends. As a result of Tedi’s severe trauma symptoms, Deepak pulled him aside and worked with him oneonone. Tedi would not talk directly about his experiences but did acknowledge the information his mother provided. The key element to dissolving Tedi’s trauma was the focus that Tedi had not failed; he had not only survived, but he was a hero. After the session, Tedi’s trauma symptoms disappeared.
Tedi now has a confident presence and is already showing leadership qualities. His experience has no doubt had a severe and lasting impact on him, but the changes also appear to have strengthened his development and he has a promising future ahead of him. Whenever TREST Aid is working in the area, Tedi turns up unexpectedly during the trainings and sits next to Deepak to show the participants the techniques he already knows. Besides being suitable to working with large groups of people as well as individuals, and particularly effective for dealing with trauma in the wake of natural disasters, energy psychology techniques have also proven to be readily accepted in Indonesia, a country with more than 300 different cultures and dozens of religions. The techniques do not clash with the majority Muslim faith, and because Chinese medicine has a long tradition in Indonesia, the concept of working with energy and acupuncture points is not unusual. For all of its benefits, however, Deepak says he is by no means wed to energy psychology as the endallbeall answer for trauma relief after a disaster. If there were a better technique that came around tomorrow, he would embrace it. But at present he knows of no better, easier or more effective tool for dealing with mass trauma and he will continue drawing them from his tool kit as he marches on with his commitment of reducing the levels of trauma in Indonesia and the rest of the world.
Respectfully Submitted by:
Victim vs. VICTIM
Several years ago, I had a discussion with a coworker about being a “victim” versus having a “Victim” mentality. When something unjust and/or hurtful happens to someone, we identify that person as a “victim.” Everyone, at some point in their life, has been a victim. A teacher or parent may have acted unfairly, an earthquake or flood may have damaged your house, maybe a boss blamed you for something that a coworker actually did. This is simply part of the human experience – while we would like the world to be just and unbiased without bad things happening to good people, it does not happen. However, when a person begins to take on the role of victim in other areas of their life, when a person sees everything in their life as being done to them, they begin to take on a “Victim” mentality. The Victim gives up control and responsibility because s/he feels powerless and uners is to provide shortterm support that empowers victims to retake control of their lives and move forward. Nathan Ray able to influence events. Nothing is ever the Victim’s fault. Rather, anything that goes right in the Victim’s life is attributed to luck or fortune. Anything that goes wrong in the Victim’s life is blamed on outside influence. Unfortunately, it can be easy for trauma workers to help victims become Victims. Our natural compassion and desire to take care of victims (whether they are victims of natural or manmade trauma) must be balanced with providing tools for victims to control their own recovery.
Without this balance, we may be conspiring with the Victims to take away more power, more control, and more responsibility for their own lives. People who make positive choices and take responsibility for what happens in their lives after trauma are more likely to resume a level of functioning equal to or greater than prior to the trauma. On the other hand, people who have experienced trauma and choose to become Victims may never again resume that level of functioning. While environment, trauma, and use of substances certainly influence people, they do not control that person. Everyone in this world has a responsibility for their own choices, no matter what is happening around them. We need to continually be aware that our role as trauma workers is to provide shortterm support that empowers victims to retake control of their lives and move forward.
Understanding Compassion Fatigue in Lawyers
The practice of law is, by its very nature, conflictdriven. Attorneys are contacted when people have a problem they cannot fix themselves. To best represent their clients, attorneys develop the skill to anticipate everything that can go wrong and to look for the worstcase scenario. “In law, pessimism is considered prudence” (Seligman, 2007). Attorneys are regularly exposed to the trauma experienced by their clients. Individuals seek as the result of a tragic accident, unthinkable domestic violence, or heinous crime. Attorneys contend with the strong emotions inherent in divorce and custody battles; potential loss or gain in liability and commercial cases; imprisonment and death in criminal law; and the extended vulnerability of offering opinions and consultation. Attorneys are taught to be aggressive and strong, to remain distant and objective, and to bury their emotions.
It is no surprise that current research indicates that a growing number of attorneys are exhibiting a high rate of compassion fatigue. (St. Petersburg Bar Association, 2006; Levin, et al, 2003.) Compassion Fatigue is the latest in an evolving concept that is known in the field of Traumatology as Secondary traumatic stress. Most often this phenomenon is associated with the caring for others in emotional or physical pain. Exposure to stories of trauma, pain, and suffering, in a work environment where unrelenting demands outweigh available resources, can slowly exhaust a person’s capacity for compassion and negatively transform their view of themselves and the world. This progressive erosion from hope and compassion to cynicism, demoralization, and emotional disengagement now has a name: compassion fatigue (OAAP, 2011). Compassion fatigue has been defined as the cumulative physical, emotional, and psychological effects of being continually exposed to traumatic stories or events when working in a helping capacity. According to the Oregon State Attorney Assistance Program (2011), compassion fatigue risk factors for attorneys include but are not limited to the following:
· Attorneys and judges with high capacity for empathy are most atrisk;
· Attorneys and judges who work in criminal, family, or juvenile law;
· High caseloads and caseloads involving humaninduced trauma;
· Lack of education about the potential impact of ongoing exposure to traumatic material and events;
· Lack of peer support and opportunities to debrief cases involving traumatic material;
· Inadequate resources to meet professional responsibilities and demands
· Limited job recognition
An article published in the St. Petersburg Bar Association Magazine (http://www.transitionsandyou.com/Compassion_Fatigue.pdf) shows that a growing number of at-torneys who work with victims of trauma are exhibiting a high rate of compassion fa-tigue symptoms. Lawyers are four times more likely to suffer from depression than the general public. Attorneys are ranked No. 1 on the list of occupations that are most depressed. (Johns Hopkins University, 1990.) One in four attorneys has exhibited symptoms of clinical depres-sion. One in five is an alco-holic. Approximately one in 10 contemplate suicide at least once each month. In fact, suicide ranks as one of the leading causes of prema-ture death in the legal profes-sion. (North Carolina Bar As-sociation, 1991.)
In a 2003 study con-ducted by Dr. Andrew P. Lev-in and Scott Greisberg de-signed to assess the pres-ence of secondary trauma responses and symptoms of burnout in attorneys working with victims of domestic violence and criminal defendants, indicated that compared with two control groups consisting of mental health providers and social services workers, attorneys surveyed demonstrated significantly higher levels of secondary traumatic stress and burnout (Levin and Greisberg , 2003) Levin and Greisberg (2003) concluded that the difference appeared related to the attorneys’ higher caseloads and lack of supervision around trauma and its effects. These findings create a starting point for further study into at torney responses and methods of ameliorating the stress of work with traumatized clients. Osofsky and Lederman (2008) noted signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue among lawyers. Such signs and symptoms include:
· Perceiving the resources and support available for work as chronically outweighed by the demands
· Having client/work demands regularly encroach on personal time
· Becoming demoralized and questioning one’s professional competence and effectiveness
. Feeling overwhelmed and physically and emotionally exhausted
. Having disturbing images from cases intrude into thoughts and dreams
. Becoming pessimistic, cynical, irritable, and prone to anger
. Viewing the world as inherently dangerous, and becoming increasingly vigilant about personal and family safety
. Becoming emotionally detached and numb in professional and personal life; experiencing increased problems in personal relationships
. Withdrawing socially and becoming emotionally disconnected from others Secretive selfmedication/addiction (alcohol, drugs, work, sex, food, gambling, etc.)
. Becoming less productive and effective professionally
Although the body of literature exploring the prevalence of compassion fatigue in attorneys continues to grow, the lack of research to support the underlying theory of the concept in relation to measurement is cause for alarm. Left unaddressed, these reactions can lead to physical problems and illness, emotional instability, work related problems, relationship problems, as well as addiction and other mental health problems…just as it does for victims (Spataro, 2007).
A key component to a long and healthy career is managing your stress. By managing your stress you are proactively taking the necessary precautions needed in order to protect yourself from compassion fatigue. Listed are some helpful stress management techniques that cannot only enhance your professional career, but you personal life as well.
. Avoid Isolation
. Find balance – look at what is important in your life
. Seek support : Debriefings, Acute Traumatic Stress management
. Get a mentor
. Understand personality types to help you work with people more effectively
. Find non addictive ways to reduce stress
. Develop friendships that are supportive
. Maintain your boundaries
. Maintain good health
. Eat right
. Have fun
In conclusion, future research should focus on clarifying the extent of and risk factors for secondary trauma in attorneys, judges, and allied professions. This work should form the basis for identifying the most effective interventions for reducing secondary trauma among legal professionals in order to enhance the delivery of legal services to victims of trauma (Pace L. Rev. 245). By developing educational programming for law students and attorneys regarding the effects of trauma on their clients and themselves, we not only educate, but begin reduce the risk factors for professionals within the legal system developing compassion fatigue.
Respectfully Submitted by:
Jason P. Maffia, BCETS, CT
Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress
The Role of the Church in Crisis Group Interventions
Responding to the needs of the community has been one of the foundational tenets of churches and other religious organizations. The Bible admonishes Christian followers to care for the needs of the poor, children, and widows. However, churches vary in their willingness and readiness to provide psychological crisis response to critical incidents. The CISM model proposed by Jeffrey Mitchell Group recommends that crisis response include both individual and group interventions. Many churches provide individual care through Pastoral and lay counseling. This article seeks to examine the ethical challenges of utilizing crisis group counseling (referred to as Critical Incident Stress Debriefings under the CISM model) within the church setting.
Group work in the church setting is not a new concept. Biblical accounts of Jesus’ life document Jesus and his disciples meeting in groups to teach and enjoy fellowship. The church itself even began as a network of small groups that met together often in private homes. “Groups are an integral feature of the church’s innate design.” (Pingleton, 1985, p. 22) Churches today continue the tradition of meeting in small groups to worship, to pray, teach Biblical principles, and fellowship with other believers. Psychotherapy groups are even found in the context of the church to help people suffering from depression and other mental health challenges. Although the his tory of church group work is substantial, there are many ethical considerations to group work in this setting that require attention. These ethical concerns include issues of multiple relationships, confidentiality, and group leader competency.
Providing group counseling within a church almost inevitably leads to the potential of multiple relationships (previously referred to as in the research as “dual relationships” (Bernard & Goodyear, 2009)). Multiple relationships refer to any role that the group leader and group member share in addition to the group counseling relationship. It can also refer to additional roles that group members have with each other outside the group counseling setting. Multiple relationships can lead to discomfort and even exploitation of individuals (Clinton & Ohlschlager, 2002). The ACA code of ethics admonishes group leaders to carefully screen potential group members to decrease the potential of multiple relationships (ACA, 2005, A.8.a.). However, the APA code of ethics states that not all multiple relationships are unethical, only those that would be reasonably expected to cause harm (APA, 2010, 3.05). Mitchell recommends that CISD groups maintain a certain degree of homogeneity to be most effective (Mitchell, 2007).
Ensuring that group members keep information confidential is challenging, and the higher the number of clients, the higher opportunity for boundary violations (Pepper, 2004). Overfamiliarity with the church setting, the leader, or other group members may also increase the risk of disclosure. Church group members may also share personal information under the guise of “prayer requests” or “concern for others” as opposed to emphasizing the professional need for privacy. There is no way for a group leader to fully enforce or guarantee confidentiality (Corey, Williams, & Moline, 1995). Therefore, it is imperative that group leaders remain aware of the challenges with group confidentiality and seek out ways to reduce the likelihood of infractions (Shulman, 2004).
Group Leader Competency
Group leader competency is also an essential element for protecting clients from harm. Group leaders, regardless of their setting, are ethically obligated to only practice within their level of competency (Thomas & Pender, 2008). Whether the group leader is a licensed professional or a Biblical lay counselor, additional training in Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) should be required before attempting to lead a group following a critical incident. Additionally, group leaders should be competent in assessing those individuals that need to be referred for services.
There are a number of methods that could be utilized to reduce the potential of ethical challenges in the church setting. A thorough explanation and expectation of confidentiality should be required in every group counseling, but an additional discussion of the necessity of confidentiality should be added to church groups due to the frequency of confidentiality breaches in such settings. Screening members for crisis group participation could minimize the potential of multiple relationships and ensure the homogeneity necessary for CISD. Appropriate training and supervision of group leaders could also decrease potential ethical challenges and increase the professionalism of the church counseling.
Group crisis counseling within the church can meet the mental health needs of its own members as well as provide a faithbased counseling service to the en tire community following a critical incident. Regardless of the ethical concerns, the benefits for counseling in the church setting far outweigh the risks. The church can meet not only the spiritual needs of the community, but also many physical, mental, and emotional needs during a crisis. Further research is needed to evaluate the efficacy of different treatment models of church group work (specifically in crisis response) and effective methods of minimizing ethical challenges while maximizing group psychotherapy benefits.
Respectfully Submitted by:
Lisa Compton, LCSW
Canine Crisis Response Dogs
A dog called Hope
A woman waiting to board the ferryboat reaches towards Tikva. “I can’t believe you are here,” she whispers. As Tikva draws closer, the woman leans over, reaches toward her and begins to hug her, burying her face deeper into the fur on her neck and begins to cry. “What’s her name,” she asks. “Tikva” I reply. Looking at her friend and back at me, she mentions that Tikva means hope in Hebrew and she is Jewish. She makes the comment that her husband loved dogs more than anything except her and that he had a merle blue collie (she thinks Tikva looks like his dog) before they got together. She remarks that this thing that just happened is a gift to her husband and a sign to give her hope and strength.
Family Assistance Center Pier 94 Sept. 2001
Some men are sitting in chairs, others on 5 gallon buckets staring at their comrades sift carefully through debris hoping for any sign of life. No one is talking. A multitude of expressions sweeps over their dirt stained faces as we approach one of the many stations around the “pile” When they find out that the dogs are brought in to see them, some joke, others ask what it is that the dogs do. I make my way towards them and ask Tikva to go say ‘hi.’ Her enthusiasm changes to calm. She becomes keen on making her way towards a man sitting and staring at the pile. She touches her nose to his knee, as he reaches out to pat her, she lifts her paws up towards his lap as if she too is reaching. He carefully lifts her into his lap and is surprised to feel the softness of her fur. She tucks her face into the crook of his arm and waits for his fingers to massage her. Perhaps she too is seeking comfort. We remain at this site for about 2 hours. Conversation is lighthearted with one while another strokes Tikva’s fur, sharing about his experience of the last 12 days…
“Wow”, says Karen in awe as we leave the site. “Those dogs did in a few minutes what it has taken me days to do.”
WTC site Sept 25, 2001 Journal account of Animal Assisted Crisis Response 2001
“Their (firefighters) defenses were high. Tikva (the crisis response dog) would come along and they would react and their eyes would light up or they would smile. They could talk with me without losing face. It was just amazing.”
Karen Soyka, M.S., LPCC, CCDC, National
Geographic, Dogs with Jobs Episode 4 Tikva
“These dogs are the only thing that helped me make it through the day….”
Firefighter, FDNY. WTC site 901
“The (therapy) dogs did not have an agenda and were never selfserving. They were never intrusive, never pathologized grief and it was in their service, sincerity, non pretentiousness and unconditional love that an extraordinary miracle of healing power was brought to the lives of over 4,000 people.”
Grace Telesco, Ph.D., Lt. (Ret.) NYPD Rescue & Recovery: Providing Crisis Intervention to the Families of the Victims of the World Trade Center Attack.
“I oversee 175 counselors, psychologists and social workers, and I wish they all had four feet. The dogs are incredibly effective. I’m jealous of the fourfooted therapists and their ability to engage and relax people in a matter of minutes.”
Margaret Pepe DMH American Red Cross relief at Pier 94 NYC after 9/11 attacks on WTC.
In the days that followed and countless times after those two weeks in NYC after 9/11, I have held the leash and quietly observed this amazing connection take place through the simple act of petting a dog.
~Responders, animal rescuers and many people who lost their pets after hurricanes Katrina and Rita immediately sought out the crisis response dogs and handlers holding the leashes~
It breaks through the isolation of trauma, encouraging a renewed sense of coping
-Firefighters at the WTC site who gave water, shared food and helped with dog’s boo-ties, sensed an ability to cope with the overwhelming tasks of the recovery efforts
-A solider, after returning home from Iraq, reported a restored sense of empathy after spending time and caring for the basic needs of the canine visitor
1 Dogs and people share emotions such as fear, anger, happiness (seeking) grief, and disgust. Some of these those emotions are shown through the expressions mirrored on the faces of the people and the dogs in their presence, captured on film. They share some of the same diseases, and share similar stress reactions.
Respectfully Submitted by:
Cindy Ehlers, CPDT-KA, CCR, CCRT
Animal Assisted Crisis Response
2- Jan Panskepp Affective neuroscience
3- Paul Ekman
4- National AACR
5- HOPE AACR