Healing after violence: WFU expert available

Sam Gladding

(Updated July 15, 2016)

Within the past weeks, the country has seen a terrorist attack in Nice, the shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, the Dallas police shootings and a mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub. Anxiety in our nation and local communities is high.

“People wonder why this is happening, and some people are almost addicted to seeing these events over and over in the news media as they are trying to make sense of them,” says counseling professor Samuel Gladding.

“When we see violence and feel like it is happening all around us, we begin to take it personally, and it makes us fear for our own safety and the safety of our communities.” Samuel Gladding

Gladding offers several suggestions for how to successfully navigate life after violent and traumatic events. (Listen to Gladding’s interview on WFDD: “How To Channel Anxiety When Headlines Turn Tough.”)

  • Be informed but not over informed. Limit time with the news each day. Exposure to traumatic news events and images of violence can make us anxious and depressed.
  • Connect with people in positive ways. Make time to visit neighbors, share meals and play games. Remember to tell the people you care about that you love them.
  • Write down your feelings. Unexpressed feelings need some place to go to reduce anxiety and fear.

“We need to talk to and listen to others,” Gladding says. “Responding in non-judgmental ways to what we hear is important. People don’t want to be criticized for the way they feel. We need to talk to one another as much as we can so we can bring constructive ideas to our communities and elected officials. We need to engage with those who are similar to us and also those who are different from us and to listen.”

Gladding worked with the Red Cross in assisting families of those killed in the World Trade Center tragedy and at Virginia Tech. He has taught, researched and written about counseling for more than 30 years, and is currently working on a book related to how trauma affects individuals and communities.

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Samuel Gladding

Professor of Counseling

Gladding, an expert on family counseling, can address issues related to parenting, blended families, and family relationships.

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