Psychological Support After A Shooting
Written by Alexis Artwohl, PH.D.,
in Section Self Defense Insurance
Recently we had a new member send in a question for Dr. Alexis Artwohl, our panel advisor in Behavioral Science. "I was wondering in the event of a self defense shooting what exactly would my physological support concuseler do for me from start to finish?"
Welcome to CCW SAFE.
A psychological counselor should be able to provide education about the mental and emotional factors that are part of a high stress situation and the aftermath. This information would help you not get confused about your reactions, and to know the usual timeline for people to come to terms with what happened. These events can impact family and friends as well, even if they weren’t there. One session is probably all you would need. However, if you or your loved ones go on to develop PTSD or other issues the education would help you to know if you need further help, and where to get it.
Seek out a counselor who has trauma expertise. Experience with law enforcement and/or combat vets is also a plus. Make sure they are licensed and have legally privileged confidentiality. Ask the counselor about the usual exceptions to confidentiality because there are always some, such as if they thought you were an imminent threat to self or others.
People need to have legally safe individuals with whom to discuss the details of an event for which they could be charged with a felony crime. The safest person is your personal attorney and I view them as the emotional first responders for these situations. Licensed mental health professionals that have legal confidentiality provide a safe place as well, but keep in mind that if you wind up suing someone down the road for psychological damages there is the potential that your medical records, possibly including your counseling records, could become open to the discovery process. Your attorney can provide further clarification on this and other confidentiality issues. You do not have to discuss the details of the event with a counselor to benefit from the counseling.
Having safe people to talk to is important because discussing the details of the event with friends and family is not recommended. Given the legal risk you would be facing makes this event different than the usual stressors for which we seek out support from our social support network. Attorney Jim Fleming’s advice: “Shut up. Be polite, but shut up – that means everybody.”
Two recent books that can provide further illumination are: