Teaching Trauma Pt. 2: Effects of Trauma


Session Two of the Teaching Trauma workshop deal with the effects of trauma, not only on the victims, but on the first responders, such as police, fire and medical personnel…..AND JOURNALISTS.

Ginger RhodesThere was quite a lot to absorb from what licensed clincal psychologist Ginger Rhodes shared with us snd a lot of good information all journalism teachers should understand….if you have time for a doctorate in clincal psychology. I’m concerned about how we could incorporate such a large body of information into beginning level classes, though I am conviced we should.

Some thoughts from Rhodes’ presentation:

There are a number of ways people are impacted by trauma, including:

  • The most common might be thought to be Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, but there is so much more.
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Disassociation
  • Physical pain
  • Physiological changes

What makes it even more difficult to deal with is that there are a lot of cultural and indvidual differences that come into play on how people will be affected and to what level.

It is important for us to prepare students on what kind of affects they will witness AND experience themselves in reporting trauma. One of the most important things to keep in mind that reaction to trauma is normal and WILL happen. When it happens to you you need to 1) recognize that it is happening and 2) how to deal with it.

Something to keep in mind is to avoid maintain what you know to be good routine: eat, sleep, exercise and maintain association with others (don’t shink away into isolation, which is a common reaction).

Photojournalist Mimi Chakarova, who also teaches at UC Berkeley, pointed out that journalists tend to know how to deal with trauma while out in the field as they take on an air of professionalism, but where the trauma hits them is later. That coincides with what Dart Center Executive Director Bruce Shapiro talked about in his opening remarks of the transition between Act One of trauma and Act Two.


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