Building Resilience in Disaster

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March 14, 2023 – In Grand Central® Radio podcast Episode No. 10, licensed clinical social workers experienced in assisting children and their caregivers in overcoming severe trauma resulting from such community disasters as 9/11, floods, and displacement and resettlement due to war or other disasters in Central America discussed with host Geri Cole and two other working grandmothers tools and strategies to help children in their care survive trauma and anxiety during and after community disaster when professional mental health and social worker services and – even the Internet – may not be available.
Those social workers are:
  • Dr. Leslie Pena-Sullivan, a Doctor of Social Welfare in Clinical Social Work, and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut, and
  • Mr. William Stover, Associate Executive Director and Clinical Director of Jewish Family Services of Middlesex County in Monroe Township and North Brunswick, New Jersey.
Their discussion concluded that those tools and strategies include:
  1. listening more than talking,
  2. asking open-ended questions,
  3. collaborating and interacting in art, play and other activities with children,
  4. modeling expressing and asking for help about our own fears and emotions,
  5. asking children about the importance to them of what they lost and emphasizing what the children still have, including their caregiver, without promising that they will recover what they lost,
  6. acknowledging and apologizing to children for our speaking or acting towards them in ways we regret,
  7. redirecting children’s potentially harmful words and actions to safe activities such as ripping paper,
  8. preparing for the inevitable community disaster affecting us and the children in our care by imaging how we would speak and behave in disasters reported in the news,
  9. building and relying for support on a community of kind and compassionate persons experiencing the same disaster,
  10. remembering that none of us are perfect caregivers and all we can do is the best that we can, and
  11. urging our governmental representatives to devote financial resources for mental health providers and social workers, attired for easy identification, to accompany first responders to sites of disasters to provide counseling as and when needed.
Here is a transcript of their conversation – Episode No. 10 Transcript