Rapid Response Team Offers 5 Tips on Dealing with Trauma

By   •   July 28, 2016   •   Topics: , , , , ,

Crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team have offered emotional and spiritual care to people affected by tragedy worldwide. Vivid firsthand accounts can cause secondary trauma for these chaplains, so self-care is critical. Here are five ways to protect yourself.

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. —Proverbs 4:23

Even if you didn’t experience the Nice, France, attack firsthand, chances are you were exposed to the graphic aftermath. You likely saw footage of survivors recounting the terrifying incident. Maybe you absorbed raw images on social media.

Receiving firsthand accounts of another’s traumatic experience can leave a lasting impression. That’s called secondary trauma, and it can be damaging if left unchecked.

“Trauma can affect us in multiple different ways—physically, emotionally and spiritually,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “And [we must] recognize that many times the effects that we see or the symptoms we see are normal.”

It’s normal to have a response to trauma. But it’s not healthy to ignore the associated emotions. Munday, who oversees the nationwide network of crisis-trained chaplains that makes up the Rapid Response Team, offered the following suggestions when it comes to coping with secondary trauma:

Talk about it.

Secondary trauma is real—whether acquired by hearing a firsthand account in person or via social media—and shouldn’t be dismissed. Munday said chaplains are susceptible to this type of trauma when listening to emotionally raw people share their stories.

Take Newtown, Connecticut, for example. Chaplains responded to the scene so quickly that they were able to minister to officers who still had blood on their uniforms. Hearing their vivid stories was tough. “That can give you a visual impression that’s hard to get rid of,” Munday said.

As a result of these types of interactions, Munday urges his chaplains—and anybody experiencing secondary trauma for that matter—to reach out. They need to talk with a trusted person, ask for prayer and study the Bible routinely.

Grieve with God by your side.

Have you ever heard the expression “Good grief”? Munday asks this question during Sharing Hope in Crisis training, and he points out it’s more than a common saying. It’s key to the healing process. “There is good grief if we can grieve God’s way, and that’s through His Word, through prayer and the counsel of godly people,” he said.

Additionally, don’t buy into the lie that you shouldn’t grieve when trauma doesn’t impact you personally. “All of us are subject to grieving over the tragedy and suffering of others, and I think we should,” Munday said, noting that’s a biblical approach. “We weep when they weep. We cry when they cry. Jesus wept over the death of a friend. Just because we don’t know them doesn’t mean we can’t grieve with them.”

Don’t isolate.

One of the biggest dangers is distancing yourself from people and choosing not to share your feelings with them. Debriefing is a required component of chaplaincy, and because the chaplains come from a nationwide network, Munday said he also strongly encourages them to have someone locally they can confide in.

Express grief your own way. For some, that means visiting a memorial, even if you have no personal attachment to that particular tragedy. Munday noted one woman drove from Ohio to Florida just to place a bouquet of flowers on the nightclub memorial. She didn’t know any of the victims, but this was how she grieved. “Grief is like a fingerprint,” Munday said. “We all grieve differently.”

Show grace.

Munday encourages people not to have expectations of others during times of grief. Those who love us most can sometimes deliver the most unintentional, yet piercing blows. “Guard your heart against the things people might say,” Munday cautioned. “People can love you deeply and still not know what to say or say the right thing. And that’s normal.”

Get involved.

Good training is a prerequisite for anybody interested in chaplaincy, but it’s also not a bad idea for navigating this crazy world. Sharing Hope in Crisis, a training created and conducted by the Rapid Response Team, offers real-life application for people by explaining things like what to say and what not to say when others are experiencing trauma. These training sessions are available in a classroom setting and online.

Whether you’re ministering to family, friends and coworkers or pursuing a role as a chaplain, the training can help empower you to make a lasting difference in this world.

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10 Comments

  1. Ann Catalon says:

    Powerful!

  2. Carl W Shiles says:

    Wow! Very good and powerful information! I was searching the Webb, asking God to show me affective means to lead others to Cbrist and found thus jewel. Thank you so much and i would love to be able to become more involved.

  3. Elsie Slade says:

    I thank God for the BGEA Rapid Response Team. I recently got the pleasure in meeting a couple of the other chaplains. My husband and I are blessed by the wise advise and trainings provided to chaplains. Thank you dear Jesus for this ministry.

  4. Rick Talley says:

    This is the power of Christianity, but we must also pray for the Grahams and the response teams. May God Bless them all.

  5. Deborah Melicharek says:

    appreciate what you are doing, praying God’s blessing

  6. Karen J Phillips says:

    I Have Been Dealing W/ A lot of Physical Trauma on Top of Emmotional Trauma that Affects you Pschologically!! I’ve Been Dealng w/ A lot of Chronic Pain For At Least 12yrs!! I Have A Very Dysfunctional Family mainly Anger Issues & Emmotional & There Not Very Supportive!! I Need Prayer Fir Them & For Me!!! Also Pray For Victims of Any Natural Disaster!!! Thank You For Listening & All the Wonderful Things You Do!!! Sincerely Karen J Phillips

  7. Claudia says:

    Looks like a wonderful program…God Bless and prayers

  8. Bob Funk says:

    May God Bless all the response team chaplains with the power of Christ to give them courage & resolve in their mission of hope to the suffering.

  9. Shannon Tanner says:

    I’m very spiritual and meditation plus pray helps. I’ve fallen into a snake pit of deception that is so huge, so many powerful people involved and much trauma. I became sick with PTSD. I’ve been harmed by the very people I went to for help. The people I trusted and loved were conspirators blocking opportunity, medical treatment and violating me all the while. Stripped of my civil rights and my human rights. My ptsd is triggered and I’m afraid of more injustice. The 1%. Keep me in your prayers, picture me happy and thriving. Loving people like I genuinely do. Standing up for human rights. Thank you.

  10. Agnes Miller says:

    Thank you for sharing how to grieve. Your information has been most helpful and I appreciate it. God bless you and stay healthy, Blessings Agnes