Ferguson Psychologist Describes Helping Residents Through Trauma

October 22, 2015 – 07:56 pm
What describes a clinical

Video of Eric Garner's arrest in New York, pictures of the rioting and burned buildings in Missouri - those images and sounds have put many people on edge, especially in Ferguson. In response, the St. Louis Association of Black Psychologists has been offering free counseling services at churches and other places around the city. Dr. Marva Robinson is a clinical psychologist and president of the group. She told me that conversations about race are a regular part of the work she's doing in the community.

MARVA ROBINSON: There's a group of protesters I worked with. And there is a black male in particular who has really just become overwhelmed with knowing that nothing he does, whether it's peaceful or yelling, has changed what has happened. And he described to me feeling as if he is underwater. He said, have you ever felt as if your entire body was submerged, and you just can't breathe, and you don't know when you'll make it to the surface? He said, that's how I feel, that my skin color stops others from treating me fairly when it comes to law enforcement, when it comes to the justice system. And I fear what will happen to my children. And so it's those conversations, very difficult conversations, about race and justice that is a major part of the treatment that we do.

CORNISH: Now, recently in and around Ferguson, schools have been closed. At times, neighborhood streets may be congested with protesters, as we mentioned, some of those images on TV of riots. What are you hearing from parents about their kids, about how children are being affected?

ROBINSON: Oh, my goodness. One of the children that I had been treating prior to this - I saw her after the grand jury announcement. And she continued to repeat, the Little Caesars burned down. The Little Caesars burned down. And so seeing that image and knowing that this particular pizza place was her every weekly Friday night treat - and now it's gone - was very hard for her to deal with. And so Mom has had a tough time in explaining to her what happened. She's had a tough time with getting her to bed at night. She's been having some flashbacks about the image that she saw on the news. And so parents have a really big battle ahead of them with being age-appropriate in how they explain this to their children, but also acknowledging that children are hurting, as well.

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Source: www.npr.org

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    • The psychiatrist is a physician. The psychiatrist is a medical doctor with a specialty in psychiatry.


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    • A clinical psychologist is a mental health professional with highly specialized training in the diagnosis and psychological treatment of mental illness, including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Clinical psychologists do not prescribe medications to treat mental illness; rather, they use psychological techniques, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy. Clinical psychologists must usually complete a Ph.D. in clinical psychology before being able to practice; however, in some states and provinces, a Master’s degree is sufficient.