Categories
Children & Grief Critical Incidents Death in Workplace Grief Life Transitions Loss Uncategorized

Grieving After a Suicide; It’s Not the Same

Grief is a natural and complex emotional response to loss. Losing a loved one to suicide is a unique and devastating experience that can have a profound impact on those left behind. The grief that follows a suicide is different from other types of grief in several ways.

One of the primary differences is the stigma and shame that can be associated with suicide. Many people who have lost a loved one to suicide may feel a sense of guilt or responsibility, even if they had no direct involvement in the suicide. This can lead to feelings of shame and isolation, as well as a reluctance to talk about the suicide or seek support.

Another difference is the sudden and unexpected nature of suicide. Unlike other types of loss, such as a long illness or old age, suicide can happen without warning. This can leave loved ones feeling shocked and traumatized, struggling to make sense of what has happened.

The circumstances surrounding a suicide can also complicate the grieving process. For example, if the suicide was the result of a mental health condition, loved ones may struggle with feelings of anger or frustration that the person did not receive the help they needed. Additionally, if the suicide was the result of external factors, such as bullying or abuse, loved ones may struggle with feelings of injustice or a desire for revenge.

The grieving process after a suicide can be long and difficult, and it is important for loved ones to seek support and care. This may include therapy, support groups, or other forms of counseling. It is also important for loved ones to take care of themselves, both physically and emotionally, as they navigate the complex emotions and challenges that come with grieving a suicide.

In summary, grief after a suicide is different from other types of grief in several ways. The stigma and shame associated with suicide, the sudden and unexpected nature of the loss, and the circumstances surrounding the suicide can all complicate the grieving process. It is important for loved ones to seek support and care as they navigate the complex emotions and challenges that come with grieving a suicide.

Categories
Addiction Recovery Anxiety & Stress Body & Neuro Brain Cancer & Medical Cancer Resilience Children & Grief Critical Incidents Death in Workplace Executive Social Intelligence First Responders Grief Life Transitions Loss Organ Transplant Pre & Post Surgical Terminal Illness Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Uncategorized Voir Dire Consultation

Ben Carrettin: Next Level Behavioral Health and Leadership Acumen

In the bustling city of Houston, Texas, one name stands out among the rest in the field of behavioral health and leadership consulting: Ben Carrettin. With over two decades of dedicated service, Ben holds two national board-certifications, is professionally licensed and has several other certifications as well. He is renowned for his expertise in helping individuals navigate the most complex and challenging aspects of life. His diverse range of clinical specialties, leadership experience and cross-cultural training has made him a trusted resource for people; personally, professionally and abroad.

A Journey of Compassion and Dedication

Ben Carrettin‘s journey into the world of behavioral health and leadership consulting began over 20 years ago, and since then, he has made a lasting impact on countless lives. His passion for helping people emerged as he embarked on a mission to provide guidance and support to those facing some of life’s most profound challenges.

Specializing in Healing and Resilience

One of Ben’s primary areas of specialization is working with individuals in recovery from addiction. His empathetic and evidence-based approach has helped many individuals find their path to sobriety, offering them hope and a chance at a brighter future. But Ben’s expertise doesn’t stop there.

He is also well-known for his work with those experiencing complicated grief and loss. Grief is a uniquely complex emotion, and Ben’s compassionate guidance helps people navigate the intricate web of emotions that accompany it. He provides strategies for healing and moving forward while honoring the memory of lost loved ones.

A Beacon of Support for Trauma Survivors

Traumatic events can leave lasting scars on an individual’s emotional life. Ben Carrettin has dedicated a significant portion of his career to working with survivors of traumatic events, offering a lifeline to those who have faced unimaginable challenges. In addition to assisting trauma survivors in his private practice, Ben has responded to many critical incidents in the field as a CISD, assisting survivors, volunteers and first responders. Whether personal or large scale, natural or a man made disaster, Ben’s knowledge, skills and unwavering support empowers survivors to rebuild their lives and find strength within themselves.

A Ray of Hope for Cancer and Organ Transplant Patients

Facing a cancer diagnosis or the prospect of an organ transplant can be an incredibly daunting experience. Ben’s work with cancer and organ transplant patients is a testament to his commitment to helping individuals and their families navigate these challenging journeys. He provides emotional support, coping strategies, and a sense of hope to those grappling with life-altering medical conditions.

Supporting Those Who Serve and Lead

In addition to his work with individuals facing personal challenges, Ben Carrettin also extends his expertise to support those who serve the community. He works closely with police officers, fire and rescue personnel, as well as various clergy and public figures. His leadership consulting services equip these professionals with the tools and strategies needed to navigate high-stress situations and lead with resilience.

International Diversity and Cross Cultural Adjustment

Professionals and their families who move to the US from other countries face a host of challenges and adjustments. The transitions they experience moving from one culture into another are complex and multifaceted. Ben has intensive, cross-cultural training and professional experience assisting individuals and families through these challenges and changes. He also works virtually with US professionals who are working abroad.

Executive Social Intelligence and Public Speaking for Leaders

Executive Social Intelligence coaching, or ESI, helps leaders strategically engage their colleagues and employees and better understand how to maneuver large scale events in the workplace such as downsizing, mergers, international expansion, leadership and structural changes and other organizational development challenges. Through this method, Ben also assists leaders in maximizing their intended message and goal when speaking whether internally or publicly.

Jury and Behavioral Consultant

In more recent years, Ben has been hired on several occasions for more specialized and out-of-the-box projects including assisting legal teams in preparing for and selecting jurors during voir dire and with business leaders seeking to assess the effectiveness and reliability of employee engagement patterns of key managers and directors during top leadership changes.

The Impact of Ben Carrettin

Ben Carrettin’s impact on the Houston community and beyond is immeasurable. His dedication to the well-being of individuals and the growth of leaders has transformed personal lives and professional organizations. His compassionate approach, combined with his extensive experience, has earned him a well-deserved reputation as a leading behavioral health professional and leadership consultant.

As Houston, Texas continues to evolve, Ben Carrettin remains a steadfast pillar of support for those in need. His work embodies the spirit of empathy, resilience, and transformation, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of all those he touches. Whether you’re on the path to recovery, dealing with loss, facing trauma, or seeking to enhance your leadership skills, Ben Carrettin is a name you can trust to guide you towards a brighter future.

(Originally presented as an introduction for Ben at a privately contracted Critical Incident response service to employees at the local office of a Texas-based company in Spring of 2017).

Categories
Critical Incidents Death in Workplace Executive Social Intelligence First Responders Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress

Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)

Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM): A Comprehensive Guide to Addressing Trauma

Critical incidents, whether they occur in the workplace, schools, public settings, or during larger-scale events, can have profound psychological and emotional impacts on individuals. These incidents can range from natural disasters and accidents to acts of violence and terrorism. In response to the psychological toll such events can take, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) have emerged as valuable tools for mitigating the adverse effects of critical incident stress. This article explores what Critical Incident Stress is, the concepts of CISD and CISM, their applications in various settings, potential shortcomings, and the vital role of specialists with clinical expertise in addressing trauma and PTSD.

What is Critical Incident Stress?

Critical Incident Stress (CIS) refers to the psychological and emotional response individuals experience when exposed to extraordinary events that are outside their usual range of experiences. These incidents can overwhelm a person’s usual coping mechanisms, leading to distress, anxiety, and a wide range of emotional reactions. Common reactions to critical incidents include shock, anger, confusion, sadness, and even guilt.

Critical incidents can vary greatly in nature, from natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes to human-made tragedies such as workplace accidents, acts of terrorism, school shootings, or public emergencies. The intensity of the stress response often depends on the individual’s proximity to the incident, their personal involvement, and their resilience.

What is CISD (Critical Incident Stress Debriefing)?

CISD, or Critical Incident Stress Debriefing, is a structured and time-limited intervention designed to help individuals process their emotional reactions and cope with the psychological aftermath of a critical incident. CISD typically involves a small group of individuals who have experienced the same traumatic event. A trained facilitator guides the group through a structured debriefing process, which usually occurs within hours to a few days after the incident.

The primary goals of CISD are to:

  1. Provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to express their thoughts and emotions related to the incident.
  2. Normalize their reactions by highlighting that their responses are typical in the aftermath of a critical incident.
  3. Educate participants about common stress reactions and coping strategies.
  4. Facilitate the sharing of experiences and emotions within the group.
  5. Help individuals identify and mobilize their own support systems.

CISD is typically conducted in several stages, including the introduction, fact phase, thought phase, reaction phase, symptom phase, teaching phase, and re-entry phase. Each phase serves a specific purpose in guiding participants through the debriefing process.

What is CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management)?

CISM, or Critical Incident Stress Management, encompasses a broader set of strategies and interventions aimed at addressing critical incident stress within organizations and communities. It includes not only CISD but also a range of proactive and follow-up interventions to support individuals and promote resilience. CISM may be applied in various settings, including businesses, schools, public institutions, and larger-scale events.

Key components of CISM include:

  1. Pre-Incident Education: Providing individuals with education and training on stress reactions, coping skills, and resilience-building before a critical incident occurs.
  2. Crisis Management Briefings: Conducting briefings immediately following a critical incident to provide essential information, resources, and initial support to those affected.
  3. Individual Crisis Intervention: Offering one-on-one support and counseling to individuals who require immediate assistance in coping with the trauma.
  4. Group Crisis Intervention: Conducting CISD sessions to help individuals process their reactions and emotions collectively.
  5. Family Crisis Intervention: Providing support to the families of individuals affected by a critical incident.
  6. Follow-Up and Resilience-Building: Offering ongoing support and interventions to ensure individuals continue to cope effectively and build resilience in the long term.

Applications of CISM in Various Settings

CISM and CISD have found applications in a wide range of settings, each with its unique requirements:

  1. Businesses: In the workplace, CISM can help employees cope with traumatic incidents, such as workplace accidents, robberies, or acts of violence. It supports the psychological well-being of employees, improves morale, and can reduce absenteeism and turnover.
  2. Schools: CISM is crucial in educational settings following traumatic events like school shootings, natural disasters, or the loss of a student or staff member. It helps students, teachers, and staff process their emotions, ensuring a safer and more supportive environment.
  3. Public Institutions: Public institutions, such as emergency services, law enforcement agencies, and healthcare organizations, rely on CISM to address the unique challenges faced by their personnel during critical incidents. It helps prevent burnout and supports the mental health of those who serve the community.
  4. Larger-Scale Events: During larger-scale events like natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or mass casualties, CISM is vital for providing immediate and ongoing support to affected individuals and communities. It facilitates the coordination of resources and interventions on a larger scale.

Potential Shortcomings of CISM

While CISM and CISD have proven valuable in many situations, they are not without their criticisms and potential shortcomings:

  1. Lack of Scientific Evidence: Some critics argue that the effectiveness of CISM and CISD lacks solid scientific evidence. More research is needed to determine their long-term impact on individuals’ psychological well-being.
  2. Inadequate Training: For CISM and CISD to be effective, facilitators must be properly trained and experienced in trauma response. Inadequately trained facilitators can unintentionally exacerbate distress or create unhelpful dynamics.
  3. Not Suitable for Everyone: CISM and CISD may not be suitable for all individuals or cultures. Some people may prefer alternative forms of support or counseling that better align with their needs and beliefs.

The Importance of Professional Clinical Expertise in Trauma

One crucial aspect of CISM and CISD that cannot be overstated is the importance of having specialists with clinical expertise in trauma and PTSD on the team. There is no substitute for professional and clinical training and a seasoned, expert with years of experience is a game changer. This is especially true when working with victims of violence, war zone survivors, natural and man-made disasters and the rescue teams who initially responded to these calls. Here are several reasons why clinical expertise is essential:

  1. Assessment and Diagnosis: Clinical experts can accurately assess and diagnose individuals who may be experiencing PTSD or other trauma-related disorders. This ensures that those in need receive appropriate clinical treatment.
  2. Treatment Options: Clinical experts can provide a range of evidence-based therapeutic interventions for individuals with PTSD and trauma-related conditions. These interventions may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).
  3. Medication Management: In some cases, medication may be a crucial component of treatment for PTSD. Clinical experts can prescribe and manage medication when necessary.
  4. Complex Cases: Critical incidents can sometimes result in complex and long-lasting trauma. Clinical expertise is essential for addressing these challenging cases and providing ongoing support.
  5. Integration with CISM: Clinical experts can work in tandem with CISM and CISD teams to ensure that individuals with acute stress reactions receive the appropriate level of care and support. They can help bridge the gap between immediate crisis intervention and long-term treatment.
Closing Remarks

Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) are invaluable tools for addressing the psychological impact of critical incidents in various settings, from businesses and schools to public institutions and larger-scale events. While they have demonstrated effectiveness, they are not without their potential shortcomings. To maximize their benefits, it is crucial to have specialists with clinical expertise in trauma and PTSD as part of the response team. These experts play a vital role in assessing, diagnosing, and providing appropriate treatment to individuals affected by critical incident stress, ensuring that they receive the care they need to recover and build resilience.

Categories
Children & Grief Critical Incidents Death in Workplace First Responders Grief Life Transitions Loss Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress

The Traumatic Impact of a School Shooting

The traumatic impact of a school shooting is likely to continue long after the initial crisis has ended. School shootings have become a tragic reality in the United States, with numerous incidents occurring in recent years. These events have a profound psychological impact on children and communities, leaving lasting scars that can affect individuals for years to come. This essay will briefly explore the psychological impact of school shootings on children and communities, including the effects on mental health, social relationships, and overall well-being.

One of the most significant impacts of school shootings is on the mental health of children and communities. Children who witness or experience a school shooting may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. These conditions can manifest in a variety of ways, including nightmares, flashbacks, and avoidance behaviors. Additionally, communities may experience a sense of collective trauma, leading to increased rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.


School shootings can also have a significant impact on social relationships. Children who experience a school shooting may struggle to form and maintain relationships with peers and adults. They may feel isolated and disconnected from others, leading to feelings of loneliness and social withdrawal. Additionally, communities may experience a breakdown in social cohesion, with individuals feeling a sense of distrust and fear towards others – something that effects the children and community for years to come.

The overall well-being of children and communities can also be deeply affected by a school shooting. Children who experience a school shooting may struggle with academic performance, attendance, and engagement in school. They may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, and fatigue. Communities may experience a decline in economic and social well-being, with businesses and residents leaving the area due to safety concerns.

In summary, school shootings have a profound psychological impact on children and communities. The effects can be long-lasting and far-reaching, affecting mental health, social relationships, and overall well-being. It is essential for individuals and communities to come together to support those affected by school shootings and work towards preventing future incidents. This can include providing mental health services, promoting social cohesion, and advocating for gun control measures. By taking action, we can help mitigate the psychological impact of school shootings and create safer, healthier communities for all.

Categories
Anxiety & Stress Children & Grief Critical Incidents Death in Workplace First Responders Grief Loss Uncategorized

Everything You Need To Know About Mass Shootings and What You May Experience Afterward

Everything You Need To Know About Mass Shootings and What You May Experience Afterward

With a steady increase in mass shootings and violence in the United States, more and more people are left as primary or secondary victims  to these heinous crimes. 

Shootings aren’t anything new to the US, sadly. The rate at which they’re occurring has drastically increased over the years leaving a gaping hole in resources and education for those struggling in the aftermath. 

What exactly is “normal” to feel in the days, weeks, and months after being witness to a shooting event?

Is the way we cope with this trauma different for kids vs. adults?

Let’s talk about it. 

What You Need To Know About The Increase In Mass Shootings:

Why is there such a spike in mass shootings all of the sudden?

Is there a common underlying problem, or is the media just choosing to cover more of these stories than ever before?

Is it because we all have the latest news at our fingertips – making these tragic stories more accessible?

The term mass shooting refers to any situation in which a gunman shoots 4 or more strangers in a sudden attack. While the attack is unexpected the perpetrator may have been planning their crime for months or years before the incident. 

In addition,  in order for a shooting to be considered a ‘mass shooting’ it must occur in any public space such as a school, shopping mall, store, or workplace. While there may be a target of the attack (such as an employee targeting his boss) others are wounded or killed in the process. 

So, why such an increase?

There hasn’t been a single week in 2022 without some instance of a mass shooting. (look at the data on school shootings in 2022)

It’s a heartbreaking statistic that shows that each year our community is left with literally hundreds of survivors and witnesses. These people then have to face the mental, emotional, and physical trauma left behind. 

Many mass shooters are incorrectly labeled as “mentally unstable individuals” who suddenly snap at the drop of the hat. But taking a deeper look shows many of these crimes are either

  1. Hate crimes (such as the shooting that occurred at Pulse, a gay bar in Orlando, Florida) or are
  2. Directed by some agenda and a desire to “send a message” (such as those perpetrated by various extremist groups) 

Shooters are more likely to be vengeful, angry individuals who are seeking revenge on society for their perceived wrongdoings done against them. 

What’s ‘Normal’ To Go Through Emotionally After a Shooting?

While mass shootings should never be considered a ‘normal’ event in society, there are some ‘normal’ emotions and feelings you may be working through after being trapped in one of these terrifying situations. 

One thing we do know, however, is that everyone processes the aftermath of a shooting differently. People may experience a wide range of emotions that come and go like tidal waves, while others may take much longer to overcome the initial denial of their experience. 

No matter what you feel, remember that it’s all subjective to your own personal experience. There is no right or wrong way to handle the aftermath of a shooting. 

Feelings you may experience after a shooting include, but are not limited to:
  • Sorrow 
  • Shock 
  • Fear
  • Numbness
  • Denial 
  • Anger 
  • Grief
  • Disassociation 
  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Paranoia 

While people are incredibly strong and most often bounce back after difficult times, shootings are events that can greatly alter your entire sense of safety and belonging. 

For example, some people struggle with feelings of survivors’ guilt or even just to sleep, eat or perform other daily activities. Some no longer feel safe in large or public places. Others find it hard to be around people and begin to pull back and disconnect from their community.

How Are Children Handling Life After School Shootings?

Children are some of the most resilient creatures on Earth. Have you ever seen a child completely face plant into the ground and then get up and keep on running?

However, the traumatic events of a school shooting are likely to disrupt all of their ‘normal’ emotional and behavioral tendencies.

Emotions and behaviors they may experience:
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • ‘Acting out’
  • Nightmares
  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Being afraid to sleep alone 
  • Shock 
  • Anger
  • Grief

It’s likely that after a shooting children are faced with navigating complex emotions they may not fully understand. Trauma is difficult enough without loss of lives. Grief for children amidst the chaos only makes things more difficult. It’s important as caregivers to nurture these wounds and support them in whatever way possible. Keep home a safe space to talk to them about what they’re experiencing in the aftermath of a shooting. While forcing or pressuring them to talk about what they have gone through isn’t helpful, remind them often that you’re here when they’re ready to talk. 

When To Seek Help After a Shooting:

There are 2 major interventions needed after a traumatic event like this.

Critical Incident Stress Debriefing / Management (CISD / CISM)

The first should ideally happen within a couple of hours and that is a special type of intervention/debriefing called Critical Incident Stress Management. These CISM professionals are highly trained it what to do right after such event to help the victims and first responders begin to process and deal with the emotional aftermath of the traumatic event.

A Professional Who Specializes in Traumatic Events

The second is to work with a professional psychotherapist who specializes in helping people who have been through a traumatic event, not just one who works with anxiety or PTSD. The best of these are likely also trained in CISM and have many years of experience as well.

While some effects of a shooting may dissolve after about 4 to 6 weeks, in some instances you may be suffering from more long-term symptoms, otherwise known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

The acute stress that can follow after an incident of gun violence is nothing to mess around with. Be mindful of your emotions and behaviors in the months following a shooting. It’s always best to seek help if you:

  • Experience frequent flashbacks or nightmares 
  • Have trouble concentrating on everyday tasks
  • Are having difficulties completing work 
  • Are experiencing intrusive thoughts related to the incident
  • Become easily triggered by things in the environment
  • Feel as though you’re in danger whenever in social settings 
  • Are feeling like you’re constantly on edge or irritable 
  • Have a hard time falling or staying asleep

PTSD can quickly spiral into self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse, self harm, and other harmful methods aimed at easing your distressing symptoms. If you feel as though you’re not returning back to yourself after a few weeks or months have gone by there are many mental health professionals trained and ready to assist you in overcoming this trauma. 

Remember, while shootings are tragically becoming more common they’re still rare. Focus on your village; your support systems such as close friends or family. While they may not be able to fully understand what you’re going through, you don’t have to walk this journey alone. And if you are live in an area that has suffered such a tragedy – lean in and support your neighbors however you can.

Cultivate Communitywe heal together.

 

Sources:

https://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/coping-in-the-aftermath-of-a-shooting

https://www.apa.org/topics/gun-violence-crime/mass-shooting

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/processing-grief-after-a-mass-shooting

Categories
Death in Workplace

Death In the Workplace

Death In the Workplace; Counseling for grief of a of co-worker

People go to work expecting things to be business as usual. At the end of the day, they go home to their personal lives, friends, partners and families. The last thing any of us expects is for a co-worker to die in the workplace, either from natural causes, or as a result of a tragic event or industrial/work related incident such as:

rig and refinery

industrial plant

construction site

line of duty (LODD)

fire and disaster

transportation vehicles

murder / suicide

When a death in the workplace happens, workers have to deal with additional concerns in addition to the shock, the death of a co-worker and the loss of safety in the work environment. Workers, Human Resources and Management may be concerned about how and why the incident occurred and what sort of steps are being taken to ensure that another accident will not happen and/or the security is being increased to protect them from future acts of violence. Death in the workplace may result in feelings of anger, guilt, unease, fears for personal safety plus the pervasive need for someone or something to blame.

When a death in the workplace occurs it can send shock waves through the various parts of the organization. Often times, workers do not get a chance to air their thoughts and feelings about what has occurred with their colleagues and managers in any structured process. People respond to loss differently. Some find it very difficult to return to work, whereas others find it helpful to keep busy; their work diverts them away from grieving, sadness and mourning. For other workers, simply getting back to standard routines and avoiding any special activities or remembrances related to the loss or death, may be the best way of putting the event behind them. Moreover, while they want to continue performing at peak levels, it becomes difficult to impossible. Low productivity and absenteeism are unfortunate but common results of unprocessed grief. On the other hand, Human Resources and Managers often do not know what format or mechanism to follow in the aftermath of sudden and unexpected loss in the office.

My services facilitate the beginning of a healthy grief process. Workers feel accounted for and part of a larger effort of empathetic responsiveness on the part of the company when their needs are addressed. As a crucial part of this larger empathetic (and practical) response, the grief counselor becomes your ally and guide through a complicated passage. (*please read the statement below)

Call Now (346)-493-6181

*The above service is for individuals and delivered at our central office. If an incident has occurred at your company and you are calling about onsite services for the employees – please go to the Critical Incident Stress page (under Corporate Services) for further assistance.

Ben Carrettin is a Nationally Board Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). He is the owner of Practice Improvement Resources, LLC; a private business which offers an array of specialized counseling, evidenced-based clinical consultation, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) and targeted ESI-based services to individuals and businesses.

 

Death In the Workplace