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When a man walked into Wilton Dental threatening to detonate a bomb, the staff remained calm and quickly got everyone out of the building before the man could decide if he wanted to take hostages.

Eventually police stormed the building, arrested the man, and confirmed the device was fake.

The situation turned out as well as one could hope (no deaths, hostages, or physical injuries), but it is still a traumatic event. While the standoff was still going on, the staff and patients made their way to Rosie’s since they couldn’t get to their cars or personal items left in the office. Everyone seemed fine but were likely still running on some level of adrenaline.

That’s why SunServe reached out to them and offered to counsel.

“Those at Wilton Dental are our neighbors in Wilton Manors and it is important to support and lend a hand when we can,” Ryan Papciak, SunServe’s Director of Mental Health Services, said. “It is important for them to know that they can call us at any time given the events they went through on Thursday evening.”

Once things calmed down they, like many other people who experience workplace traumas, may feel it “hit” them. And each will be affected differently.

“Traumatic events can trigger reactions that are very unique to each individual. Some folks may ‘feel fine’ and others may not in reacting to the same event. If they are noticing that they are feeling anxious about returning to work after some time has passed, they could benefit from talking to one of our clinicians at SunServe. Other signs could include avoidance of the workplace, feeling distracted while at work, and/or feeling ‘on-guard’ while working.”

Working Through Your Feelings

Many people suffer from PTSD and go undiagnosed. Some see symptoms but decide to “just deal with it” because they think therapy is a long, drawn-out process. Papciak said that isn’t always the case.

“Many people come in and work through their feelings in just a few sessions and are finished. Therapy allows those that have gone through a traumatic experience the space to process it and in a lot of cases, normalize their reactions to the trauma. Most people don’t realize that when their body is in fight or flight or freeze, they make decisions that they otherwise might not have made. That is a normal response. Sometimes people can feel guilt or shame about how they acted in response to those traumatic events. Therapy can be extremely helpful to someone newly processing a traumatic experience. It doesn’t mean they need to start with their childhood experiences in the first session or at all.”

Of course, few traumas involve bomb threats or physical attacks. Papciak said people need to recognize and validate their own experiences.

“Some workplace-related traumas can include a physical injury or an accident that occurred at work that could change one’s ability to work effectively. This can impact their view of themselves as productive members of society if they are unable to work in the same capacity as prior to the injury. Talking to a therapist about the accident may give them space to process their feelings surrounding the event as well as how they are able to lead a productive life in a different role in their job.”


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