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Resources for a 12-Year-Old Girl in Aurora, Colorado

30 Jul

Question:

Dear Belleruth,

I have a young friend, age 12 and going into middle school, in Aurora, Colorado. Like other kids there, the movie theater near her home and other parts of her everyday life are now associated with a terrible and traumatizing event.

She's also had some pretty big losses in her life this year, including her dad's death.

I'm looking for the right cd to help help her find calm and strength in light of the emotions these deaths are sure to stir up. I fear the cd for kids 5-12 may be too young for her, and the Shambala tape for teens may focus on too many issues. What would you recommend for her?

While I'm at it, I'd like to send friends in Aurora tapes appropriate for younger kids and for adults. Could you give me a list of tools that will be helpful for kids and their parents, folks who were witnesses to the shooting or know someone who was?

Even though I no longer live there, I definitely felt the trauma from a distance, and have been listening to your Relaxation and Wellness tape to prevent the feeling of helplessness from setting in. I'm grateful these tools are available!

Peggy

Answer:

Dear Peggy,

It saddens me that there’s yet another occasion for a question such as yours, but I very much appreciate your asking it.  

It seems like we were just addressing this issue a couple of months ago with the kids, parents, teachers and staff of Chardon High School, right around the corner in Northeast Ohio, after the massacre in the school cafeteria.

For your young middle school friend, I agree with you that the kid resources would most likely be too babyish for her; and the Shambala audios are great for her age but too general for this.  At twelve, I think it’s safe to say that the simpler adult titles would work just fine for her:  Ease Grief, Relaxation & Wellness, Healthful Sleep, Affirmations and, if needed, the Panic Attack or Anger & Forgiveness imagery – any of those would work fine.

And, when in doubt, start with the Healthful Sleep imagery. Nobody’s doing much sleeping these days anyway, it seems, whether traumatized or not, and it’s always a good place to start with anybody who’s never listened to guided imagery before. People are more open to it in the context of trying to get some sleep, and you may find less resistance to it, as well as less trying to get it exactly right (which of course is counter-productive).  Once they get the hang of its usefulness, which they usually do with that imagery –it’s pretty effective -  they can then move on to other titles… it seems that the sleep imagery serves as a kind of “gateway” function.

If she really gets into it and gets a lot out of it, she may even be a candidate for the Healing Trauma imagery.  But I’d hold back on that – it’s pretty intense and some of the images are pretty dark at the beginning.  That might be far better for traumatized adults, and even with them, they could cut their teeth on Relaxation & Wellness first, as they do in the military and V.A.

You may want to check out the web page we put up for Chardon for other ideas for the kids and the grown-ups of Aurora.  We created it for them with password protected links to guided imagery downloads for them, for quick and easy access to these very handy digital tools. 

One of the things we did in Chardon – it was so close by - was go directly into the High School, Middle School and Elementary School, where I gave explanations of the nature of traumatic stress and demonstrate the impact of the imagery. As a result of the discussion, some of the teachers, staff and kids got their own ideas – the librarian decided to play Steve Kohn’s soothing music during study hall – a stroke of genius, I gotta say.  And the kids put up their own facebook page for social support, among other things – another smart idea.  

The faculty also worked hard with the local mental health agencies, hospice support groups and community services agencies, such as United Way.  It was an impressive collaboration. I’m sure the same sort of coordinated support is happening in Aurora, too.

Thanks for writing and please keep us informed of how your young friend is doing.

All 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