Therapists, social workers offer support for Normal students

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A bus carrying the Normal West JV High School Girls’ Basketball Team was involved in an accident Wednesday evening when authorities say it was hit head-on by a semi truck going the wrong-way.

Thursday afternoon our news crew spoke with Unit 5 social workers who said a number of students have already reached out for therapy services.

The most important thing the social workers shared is for parents to be there for their child no matter what is happening.

Social workers also said some ways you can help your child through trauma or loss include the following:

1. Be present to the feeling and give lots of reassurance.

2. It’s going to be hard to label the feeling so help them give a name to the feeling as it’s experienced.

3. Remind them of their personal safety a the present moment, because trauma resurfaces in various ways.

4. Reassure that one can be expecting a flood of emotions and that there is no “right” way to grieve. It’s okay to laugh, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be numb.

5. Re-establish your sense of normalcy and routine for your family and know that it may look different than other families and that is okay.

6. Remember that you as parents will be experiencing a variety of emotions and that it may be different pace or intensity than of you child.

7. Be patient with yourself through the grieving process. There is no set timeline of when we should be adjusted. We tend to get frustrated with ourselves thinking “I should be better” but that’s not how grief works.

Also – remember that new loss triggers memories of previous losses and that this compounds and complicates grief.

Know your resources at West, (2 social workers, 1 psychologist, Project Oz and Normal Police Department) as well as resources in the community.

This information above came directly from the social workers.

“I think the most that you can do for your child is to help them be present to the feeling. Be aware of your own feelings at the moment,” said Rosann Emerson-Fox, a social worker with Unit 5.

She also added that it is okay to laugh, cry and feel numb.

Hillary Tanner is a social worker with Unit 5 who specializes in trauma.
She said people respond differently to situations like this.

“Some kids might experience what might be traumatic and sadness for some of us and anger might be happening for other kids,” said Tanner.

The best way to start a conversation?

“Sometimes it’s just sitting there and getting out a bag of goodies. And sometimes it’s blocks. Sometimes it’s fidgets. And sometimes it’s sitting down and saying what did you have for breakfast and then they open up on their own,” stated Tanner.

Social workers will be handing out packets for the families. Those packets will include things like safety, the importance of self care, breathing activities to help with anxiety. They also have a list of available resources that can help in situations like these.



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