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This model of care aims to bear witness and break the cycles of trauma that can otherwise permanently damage us as individuals, families, and communities.
On Tuesday May 24, 2022, an 18-year-old high schooler walked into Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, and killed at least 14 children and 1 adult, and left many more people injured and a whole community devastated.
Grieving will take a long time, and healing from such horrific tragedies is a communal affair. When children die because of man-made violence, there are little words one can offer to console.
Working with survivors of large-scale disasters, I have founded Untangled, a model of care that aims to bear witness and break the cycles of trauma that can otherwise permanently damage us as individuals, families, and communities.
Untangled steps in with humility to fill gaps and offer support through:
1. Psychoeducation: to normalize emotions and reactions and minimize stigma
2. Training: to build capacity of the local psychosocial professionals
3. Support: to open safe spaces for the community to grieve and heal
4. Resources: that are culturally appropriate and sensitive
5. Services: to offer therapeutic clinical interventions for those who need them
We can use our anger productively, not to self-deploy without proper preparation. Good intentions alone are not enough, but organizing and collaborating to empower the survivors and celebrate the memories of those killed can help. We should also remember to care for ourselves as wounded healers, so we do not burn out while caring for others.
The cycle of human violence can be broken, but that is an effort that needs all of us to believe and invest in.
Dr Reda is a practicing psychiatrist with Providence Healthcare System in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of The Wounded Healer: The Pain and Joy of Caregiving.