Dealing and healing from survivor guilt after car accident
Hi, my godmother recently got into a fatal car accident where the person she hit passed away. That same day, she suffered a heart attack. The doctors told her that she was unusually lucky due to the severity of the the heart attack and that she was near the hospital when it happened. I want to get her a helpful book(s) about recovery and dealing with survivor's guilt. I'd be open to all recommendations and advice on how to help her heal in all aspects of her life.
Hi Deb. As usual, for trauma of all kinds, my top recommendation is for EFT (Meridian Tapping) as a method of healing; I actually had a client who hit and killed a pedestrian. Her guilt was severe and she couldn't function afterwards - couldn't work and became depressed; She blamed herself even though it was actually unavoidable. At the time I hadn't yet learned to use EFT, so I used another trauma release method called EMDR, which helped her return to her normal life within several sessions. EMDR really requires the guidance of a therapist, and I actually find it far more tedious and cumbersome than EFT. EFT is often faster, less intense (you don't have to re-experience the whole trauma when using this technique), and while it is sometimes necessary to use the guidance of a therapist, you can also learn to use the technique on your own.
EFT can help her to extinguish the intense images and emotions that create a traumatic memory and can allow her rational mind to see the event from a new, more accepting perspective.
Survivor guilt can be quite complicated. If she truly believes that she was to blame for this death, then she will probably need to see a therapist who can help her to see things from a different angle. A good Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist could be effective - but again - an experienced therapist who uses EFT would be my first choice.
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist
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