ORLANDO, Fla. — The mass shooting in California is triggering memories for people in Central Florida after the Pulse nightclub massacre more than two years ago.
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Licensed mental health therapist Kari Russo says if someone wasn’t directly affected by the Pulse shooting in Orlando or another traumatic event, just hearing about the mass shootings can take a toll on anyone.
“Every time something like this happens, our community is traumatized on some level,” said Russo.
Kari Russo has counseled first responders, Pulse survivors, and survivors of the Parkland school shooting. She says the shooting in California will bring up painful memories for those survivors. But she says you don’t have to be a survivor of a major traumatic event for news of repeated mass shootings across the country to affect you.
“Even just hearing about it, you’re traumatized, and people don’t even realize (it), but your subconscious does,” said Russo.
She says it can cause people to react in ways they might just chalk up to being “stressed out.”
“You may overreact to your kids, your spouse, your boss, or overreact to somebody being critical to you,” said she said.
Russo says what happened at Pulse – and events across the country since then – has increased the number of patients who need mental health treatment in Orlando.
She uses a relatively new treatment called Accelerated Resolution Therapy – or ART – to treat PTSD, which is often found in trauma survivors. And she says she’s seen an increase in the number of counselors who want to learn the treatment, which Russo’s been training them on.
“Therapists are sometimes feeling like they don’t know what to do, like ‘I can talk to them but it just seems to make it worse,’” said Russo.
Russo says the ART helps patients without forcing them to re-hash painful memories.
“People who have had the therapy don’t have nearly the re-traumatization like people who haven’t had therapy, and just thought they were managing and going on through life,” said Russo.
And Russo says the bottom line is that everyone is affected to some degree by national traumatic events, so no matter who you talk to about it or what specific treatment you get, she says if you think you might need help, get it.