Shortly after the World Trade Center was attacked, Time Magazine speculated that in six months nearly half of the people who had survived the incident by being in the vicinity were likely to experience a psychiatric disorder. They based their figure on a 1999 study of survivors from the Oklahoma City bombing.
With this in mind, a three-day training course on post-trauma issues for campus counselors and staff will be offered March 18-20 in the Dodge Room of Earl Hall. The course is organized by Reverend Susan Field, Columbia's Baptist chaplain, and co-sponsored by the International Traumatology Institute (ITI) of the University of South Florida, the Crisis Intervention Institute (CII) at Oklahoma City, and Columbia's Baptist Campus Ministry. The training is open primarily to any individuals working with students and will cover subjects such as the history of clinical and field traumatology, models and responses to trauma and disasters, and compassion fatigue.
Field was concerned that some people who had survived September 11 might not begin to feel the effects until months later, and thought training on campus would be helpful. She recruited Joe Williams, director of CII and Oklahoma Chaplain for the FBI who has been in New York City helping train Port Authority, NYPD and NYFD chaplains. Williams suggested also including instructors from the ITI. Field then received a grant from Baptists across the country who wanted to help college students through the healing process, and who underwrote the majority of the costs for the 25 hours of certified training.
"Hearing the report from Oklahoma City on long term effects of terrorist attacks, I felt that people living or working or going to school in Manhattan were also going to be affected but not necessarily deal with it," Field said. "It's easier to pretend the feelings aren't there until something else triggers them. The result is usually tragic. I think the goal in offering this training is to preempt these effects on our campus, to intervene before the effects are really damaging."
Several mental health professionals have registered for the training as well as representatives from Columbia's residential programs, Barnard College Residential Life, Humanitarian Affairs at the School of International and Public Affairs, Mailman School of Public Health, School of Social Work, other chaplains from United Campus Ministries and pastors and chaplains from around the city. More information is available by contacting 854-1514.