How to Recognize and Treat Psychological Injury
When a crime or other catastrophic event happens at your jewelry business, your first responsibilities are always to attend to any physical injuries, secure the business premises, assist police, and get in touch with your insurance agent or carrier. Soon after, however, there is another important follow-up measure that should not be overlooked.
The psychological injury that may result from a robbery, another crime, or some other catastrophic event at your place of business often is not as immediately obvious as a physical injury. Left unaddressed, however, it can be very serious and even debilitating to the sufferer.
Treating the psychological effects of a traumatic event is so important, in fact, that Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company announced an innovative benefit to address this need. The benefit is the result of a partnership between Jewelers Mutual (JM) and Ceridian LifeWorks, a leading provider of crisis support services in the U.S. and Canada.
Available to a JM-insured jewelry business’s employees and family members touched by traumatic events related to an insurance claim, the benefit provides immediate and full-service counseling via phone, private in-person appointments, and even on-site group or one-on-one meetings. This benefit is included with Jewelers Mutual insurance coverage.
According to Joseph Utecht, LifeWorks master counselors manager, the important first step is to recognize the psychological injury. “We’re all familiar with stories of the individual who walks away from an automobile accident saying he is fine, when in reality he has a bad concussion or a broken bone. In the immediate aftermath, the shock of the event and rush of adrenaline temporarily mask the injury. Psychological injury can be the same, but sometimes with a longer delay before the individual realizes he is struggling to cope with what had happened.”
Utecht recommends watching for these signs that an individual could be having difficulty recovering from psychological trauma:
- vivid and frequent flashbacks,
- a pervasive change in personality or demeanor,
- dramatic emotional swings,
- anxiety or paranoia,
- insomnia or fitful sleep,
- depression, and/or
- heightened feelings of stress.
“Often it’s a matter of degree,” Utecht said. “Any or all of these can be normal responses to trauma, but if the intensity is too great or the condition persists, there could be a problem.”
For this reason, Utecht recommends that traumatized individuals seek the services of a well-credentialed professional counselor at the first signs of an emotional or psychological struggle.
Take these steps to promote emotional and psychological healing after a robbery or other traumatic event
A robbery, burglary, or other type of crime at your jewelry business can be traumatic to you and your associates. For that matter, a major storm, fire, and other catastrophes can also take an emotional and psychological toll.
This special edition of Jewelers eNews announces a pioneering new professional-counseling benefit that Jewelers Mutual provides to help its policyholders cope in the aftermath of traumatic events (see link to news release, above).
Because people experience trauma and its effects differently, the question of whether professional counseling is needed is always an individual decision. Regardless of the need for professional services, the following lists of “dos” and “don’ts” can aid in an individual’s recovery from emotional and psychological trauma:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Maintain a good diet and exercise.
- Spend time with family and friends.
- Take time for leisure activities.
- Talk to supportive peers and family members about the robbery.
- Learn about traumatic stress.
- Expect the robbery to bother you.
- Stay connected to your spiritual resources and advisors.
- Don’t drink alcohol excessively.
- Don’t use legal or illegal substances to numb reactions or serve as an emotional crutch.
- Don’t withdraw from significant others and friends.
- Don’t stay away from work.
- Don’t reduce your leisure activities.
- Don’t set unrealistic expectations for your recovery.
- Don’t make major life decisions or changes while you’re coping with trauma.
- Don’t be hard on yourself or others.
Be a supportive co-worker to help associates recover from trauma
What can you do when a co-worker is affected by a violent or traumatic incident such as a robbery? You may have your own feelings about the robbery that are difficult to resolve. Most of all, you may simply feel that you don’t know what to say. The following suggestions may help:
- Survivors of a robbery need to come to their own conclusions about why it occurred. This will help them regain feelings of safety and security. Avoid stating your own reasons for why the robbery occurred.
- Each person experiences trauma and its results differently. One person cannot know how another feels. If you want to share your feelings, let the person know that these are your feelings. The other person’s feelings may be very different.
- Acknowledge the event. It may seem easier to pretend that nothing happened, but it won’t help the person recover.
- Ask how the person is doing, but don’t press for details of the robbery. If your co-worker wants to talk, just listen. Talking about the robbery often is an important part of healing. If the person is not ready to talk about it, don’t push.
- Offer emotional support. Remember that people recover at different rates.
- Offer practical support. Instead of the catch-all “If there’s anything I can do …,” offer to do specific things such as giving rides to or from work, running errands, picking up part of the associate’s workload (if your employer agrees), going to lunch together, or simply being available to listen.