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June 25, 2007

22 Jun
Shortly after the violence at Virginia Tech this past Spring, several loyal alums contacted us to see if we would be willing to donate downloads of our trauma-related imagery for the students, faculty, staff..
Shortly after the violence at Virginia Tech this past Spring, several loyal alums contacted us to see if we would be willing to donate downloads of our trauma-related imagery for the students, faculty, staff and families suffering from acute stress and traumatic grief.

We said we’d be happy to, but, having experienced the difficulties involved in offering unasked-for resources to a place after a highly publicized atrocity, I told them it wouldn’t be easy to get their attention or trust, and that we didn’t have time to try. So it would be up to them to make contact and vouch for our bona fides. I warned them that everyone and his cousin would be proferring every kind of "assistance" imaginable, and the counseling staff and University administration would be overwhelmed by well-meaning helpers storming the gates.

This happened at Columbine and with 9/11 too. In both cases, you had to know someone inside the system who could vouch for you. This kind of caution was necessary, sad to say. There were some really inappropriate people showing up, working their own agendas and meeting their own needs, (unbeknownst to themselves) at the expense of some very raw, vulnerable, traumatized people. Bouncers were totally necessary.

If I hadn’t had an old colleague-friend from my Chicago days who’d wound up in Jefferson County, Colorado, we’d never have gotten our Healing Trauma imagery to the students and faculty at Columbine; and if a friend hadn’t been pals with a key American Red Cross official, those same tapes would never have been dispensed to workers on the Pile and at the Pentagon.

As predicted, the VT alumns couldn’t get through. One stalwart, Linda Scimeca, a recreation therapist and artist at the NIH Clinical Center, stayed with it, trying to make contact but getting dead-ended, time after time.

I finally called my old boss and good friend, John Defee, now head of the Fairfax County Mental Health Board, to see if he could help with an introduction to his counterpart in Blacksburg, which he graciously did. That got nowhere, however.

Then, weeks later, when it appeared the whole idea was tanking and we’d moved on to other projects, out of the blue, our very own Julie Lusk emailed, asking if we’d thought of donating some of our materials (as she’d done). .. turns out she’s not only an alum, but a graduate of their counseling department, and a favorite professor of hers was able to make the necessary intros. So suddenly, Linda’s calls were returned and we had a way in. Right now, we’re preparing a web page for them, with some free downloads.

Funny how sometimes it’s harder to give the stuff away rather than sell it! To be continued!

All best,

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