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A First Responder’s Trauma – When You Can’t Save Them…

22 Jul

Hi, Belleruth.

 I hope you are doing well. We met at one of your workshops years ago.

 A few weeks ago, I ended up being a first responder for a tragic accident. The young man lived but is not doing well, has significant injuries.

 I am having a great deal of difficulty dealing with this.

 I saw a trauma counselor, who told me what I need to do (let go), but not how to do it.

 I thought perhaps one of your guided imageries would help. Can you suggest which one?  Thank you.

 David 

 

Dear David,

First of all, thank you for having the skill, courage and stamina to do the work that you do.  Where would we be without people like you looking out for us?

Second, I’m sure it doesn’t feel this way to you, but it’s only been a very short time.  It’s normal for anyone to be replaying this terrifying, central nervous system activating event, over and over again for weeks, maybe months.  For most people, this subsides and your nervous system settles back down.

Thirdly, I know that the trauma that many first responders experience (and soldiers too)  is often related to a feeling that you should have done more (or better or smarter or just different-er) to help someone, and you feel responsible for the negative outcome, whether that's warranted or not.  I'm assuming that to some degree, that's in play here for you too.

So, assuming that's correct, I'd suggest a couple of things.  

To help you unstick the trauma and at the same time, deal with the assumptions you're carrying about your responsibility/culpability, I'd suggest one of the "Alphabet Therapies", with guided imagery for back-up.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing); SE (Somatic Experiencing) or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) are three of many excellent protocols that can make a big difference with these two challenges, and they’re relatively quick, efficient and most of the time don’t create extra distress, the way some kinds of Prolonged Exposure therapies do.

These methods may seem a little odd to you at first, but if a technique works quickly and efficiently, do you really care?
 
If you want to investigate further before trying to find a local practitioner, you can either look up the descriptions in my book, Invisible Heroes (Chapter 14).


Or you could also google each one and go to their own websites to get the hang of them and access a directory of local practitioners.

In addition, Mary Sise has an excellent EFT video that can train you in how this works and how to apply it to yourself.

Then, as back-up, I'd try our Healing Trauma imagery,

I hope this helps.  Wishing you the very best,

Belleruth

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award