Psychologist Says Healing Process for Surviving Sandy Hook Students May Take Years
The horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., won't soon be forgotten by anyone, including the first graders who survived the tragedy. According to a professor from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa., the healing process for these children can be quite lengthy, and require the unwavering efforts of many.
"Since these children are only six and seven years old, they are barely able to understand what happened cognitively. They are just beginning to think logically. However, they will have emotional memories that will last a very long time," said Jane Ward, professor of psychology. In addition to her work at the College, Ward has worked with traumatized children through her private practice. "The parents and professionals are the people who can help the children process the events at different stages in their lives. Many of them will need to reprocess the traumatic events of that day as their emotional, social and cognitive abilities change with age and experience."
Ward said children often will hold back on talking about their traumatic experience because they don't want to re-experience it and "feel bad" yet again. She said expressive therapies like play therapy or art therapy are often a key to helping these children to unlock their emotions and even then, it could be a matter of small steps over the span of many years.
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