Addressing anniversary reactions of trauma through group process: The Hurricane Katrina anniversary wellness workshops

  • Nemeth D
  • Kuriansky J
  • Reeder K
 et al. 
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Abstract

Natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States in the summer of 2005, have highlighted the need to develop effective post-trauma psychotherapeutic intervention strategies, not only to deal with the immediate psychological aftermath of trauma, but also the long-term effects of anniversary reactions. Governmental responses to Hurricane Katrina relief were greatly criticized for disorganization and delay. Both immediately afterwards and in ensuing months, people's life needs often were not addressed. People-to-people individual and group grassroots efforts, including those provided by mental health professionals, however, did reach local communities to service immediate needs and long-term emotional reactions. The present paper describes one such effort designed to help survivors cope on the occasion of the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Specifically, anniversary reaction group workshops were held to address unresolved emotional issues and to promote healing by encouraging belonging, comfort, security, and resilience. The ultimate goal of these wellness workshops was to assist participants in understanding and resolving their anniversary reactions. Preliminary quantitative and qualitative findings suggested that this workshop format helped participants face their anniversary reactions, address their related psychological sequelae, and deal with their physical displacement. Participants were then able to f i nd the emotional strength to reattach, form new communities, and begin problem solving. These methods, with appropriate cultural modifications, were subsequently used in China, to assist Chinese mental health professionals prepare for the first anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract).

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Authors

  • Darlyne G. Nemeth

  • Judy Kuriansky

  • Kenneth P. Reeder

  • Amity Lewis

  • Kristin Marceaux

  • Taighlor Whittington

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