Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Healing Through Advocacy

If you are feeling overwhelmed by feelings of anger, pain, confusion and despair due to the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, you are in good company. This week most of the people I encountered in my personal life and in my private practice were feeling highly stressed, sad and helpless. As a psychotherapist from Newtown, CT, I am trying to stay strong by working through my own grief so that I can support others through this profoundly painful time.

Healing from trauma takes time, and varies tremendously from person to person.  Factors such as an individual's genetics; thinking style; home, school, community and work environments; and past traumas all shape the healing process.  Cultural traditions and beliefs, and spiritual or religious faith also play a role in the recovery process.

One wonderful way to counteract despair and speed healing is to foster positive change. Many of you have already helped in ways such as donating to funds for the victims' families and signing a national sympathy card. Another way you can take action is to speak out against assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Instructions are detailed below, courtesy of  Josh Sugarman, Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center.  Josh is a fellow graduate of the Newtown High School class of 1978, and I am proud to call him my friend.

"To my Newtown Friends:
As some of you may know, I've spent most of my professional life working to stop gun violence as founder and executive director of the Violence Policy Center in Washington, DC.

And while I know all too well that gun violence can happen anywhere, that such a horrific event occurred in Newtown is almost beyond comprehension. To see young lives destroyed and the anguish of friends and family is beyond heartbreaking. 

Over the past few days, I've talked to fellow classmates and friends from Newtown and the common question has been, what can we do? Right now, one of the immediate actions you can take is to contact the White House, your Member of Congress, and your U.S. Senators and let them know that you're from Newtown and that you demand action. This may not sound like much, and it's only the first step, but it will make a real difference. I've included contact information below. 
--White House Comments: 202-456-1111

President Obama has said that he will support an assault weapons ban. Call and thank him and urge him to follow through on his promise. 
--U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 

Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard and ask to speak with your Member of Congress and U.S. Senators. Tell them you support a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. 

Please follow the Violence Policy Center, on the web, Facebook, and Twitter, and share this information with everyone you know."

I will be writing more soon on healing from trauma. In the meantime, remember that a little extra patience and small acts of kindness will ease your suffering and that of those around you.

Thinking of you,

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