Ashenfelter & Associates

Ashenfelter & Associates is a Dallas, TX counseling practice born out of a desire to offer help and hope to teens, adults, couples and families as they navigate through life’s many challenges. Call today to schedule your free 20 minute consultation at 214-563-8980.  We look forward to having the opportunity to walk with you as you reach restoration.  You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Secondary Trauma & Remembering 9/11

9/11 MemorialToday we remember the lives lost that horrible day in 2001.  I’m sure that you, like me, remember exactly where you were when you found out about the attacks.  I was in my college Civil War history class.  I remember sitting in front of my tv for hours watching the footage, crying and worrying that it wasn’t over.  Since that day, I’ve never looked at a low flying plane the same way again, there is always a twinge of fear.  Every year on the anniversary, the same feelings of sadness and worry come back.  This is an experience of secondary trauma.

Secondary Traumatic Stress is defined as “the presence of PTSD symptoms caused by at least 1 indirect exposure to traumatic material.”

One indirect exposure to traumatic material…but we’re not exposed just once to traumatic events unfolding.  Our world is so connected, we see traumatic, real world events happening in real time every single day.  We are bombarded with images and stories of horrific happenings in our city, in our country and around the world.  Our ancestors lived in much more dangerous times but they were only aware of what was going on in their immediate surroundings.  They didn’t see images of wars, famines and diseases on the other side of the world.  They didn’t read story after story of people dying of cancer, they knew one, maybe two people that were diagnosed with cancer.

It is because of this constant exposure to trauma that we see soaring rates of depression and anxiety like no other time before while living in the safest time in history.  We are a traumatized generation even if we’ve never directly endured trauma ourselves.

Secondary trauma is real.  It’s the heightened awareness you feel while walking through a parking lot at night even though you have never been attacked in a parking lot at night.  It’s the tension you feel in your muscles when the plane takes off even though you’ve never experienced a plane crash.

So what do we do with it?  Do we stick our heads in the sand and ignore the problems of the world?  No, we don’t to do that; the world needs people to see and act.

But there are times when we may need to turn off the tv or stop reading the news reports for a while.  We need to focus on what is good in the world.  We need to take time out of our day to give thanks for what we have been given and to enjoy the moment.  For me that looks like sitting on my back patio and watching the birds and squirrels chase each other, I find peace while appreciating creation.  I connect with God in that moment and know that I’m not alone in this world.

What does that look like for you?  How can you take care of yourself today in the midst of remembering that awful day 13 years ago?

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