Lifethreatening Traumatic Situations

Since the Twin Towers attack, (9/11), the possibility that large groups of people might be adversely affected psychologically by being somehow involved in life-threatening, traumatic situations is becoming more and more publicly recognized. Unfortunately trauma victimization is nothing like a new phenomenon and 9/11 only served to dramatically highlight the problems that such unfortunates have been facing for many years. Among the better-known dramatic incidents are Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, the Pakistan Earthquake and many, many similar events such as the tragedy at Virginia Tech in the spring of 2007.

The natural human response to such situations is to try and help. The problem is how? One of the superficially easy ways to do this is to throw resources at the situation and this often includes providing the supposedly "expert" help of the therapist who, it is hoped, will be able to deal with all the awkward bits of the problem, especially those involving any emotional discomfort, that might be discovered in either the victims or the assistance providers. Authors such as Bessel, Van Der Kolk, McFarlane, and Weisaeth, 1999; Scott and Stradling, 2006; and Warren 2006 and many others give us lots of clues about how therapists might go about such a task. So, how can therapists best help, and given that most of these events inevitably produce large numbers of potential victims, how can we help on a "mass-production" scale? Surely the very being of the therapist, especially that of the group therapist, lays in a supposed ability to multi-task the delivery of therapeutic inputs to multiple-populated client groups? If we can't help then who can?

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