Saugus High shooting: Therapist offers tips into healing

Dr. Jonathan Sandberg speaks at the bnHealing form Trauma and Loss seminar at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Saugus Monday night. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Although it may seem implausible at first, following a deadly campus shooting at Saugus High School on Thursday, healing is possible, according to therapist Jonathan Sandberg. 

More than 150 people, including local students affected by last week’s events that left three teenagers dead and three others injured, heard three tips on “Healing from Trauma and Loss” from the marriage and family therapist on Monday night at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Bouquet Canyon Road. 

“People can heal from really horrific, terrible things,” said Sandberg, who has worked as the marriage and family therapy program director at Syracuse and Brigham Young universities. 

While there are many ways to heal from a traumatic experience, Sandberg offered three tips: 

Rely on each other

At the start of the gathering, attendees were asked to hold hands during a prayer. Some stood up to say it made them feel “unified,” “connected,” or “supported.”

Talking and being there for one another is one of the most important things communities can do when experiencing loss and trauma, rather than isolation because it can bring additional struggles like hopelessness, according to Sandberg. 

“We can’t just go to our phones,” he said. “We need real human contact; we need human conversations.” 

Seek help

Trauma is a violation and those suffering should seek help, said Sandberg. 

People should turn to trusted others, such as parents, teachers, clergy or counselors, he said. Books, podcasts or TED Talks on how to heal are also useful resources. 

Therapy and witnessing are also vital in healing, he said, adding that “witnessing is believing that when we connect with another person, it releases the poison for both of us. Witnessing can be done really well by therapists.” 

Connect with your higher power

Whether it’s a yoga or a prayer session, Sandberg recommends “connecting with a higher power.” 

“There are lots of good practices out there and they come from all faiths,” he said. “But in the end, we have to get above ourselves if we’re going to get out of a moment like this. We’re just not capable or smart enough to do it alone.” 

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