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    Learn to cope with terror tonight

    Experts offer a free session with advice on dealing with the anxiety with which some are struggling after the terrorist attacks.

    By CHRIS TISCH

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published September 27, 2001


    LARGO -- Are you having trouble coming to grips with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks?

    Anyone with problems or questions about coping with terror is invited to attend a free counseling session tonight. Called "Coping After Terror, Dealing with War," the session will feature psychologists, mental health professionals and spiritual leaders who will offer advice and encouragement.

    "We felt this was a way to give some information and counseling to the area," said Victoria Hawkins, a licensed clinical social worker who will speak at the session about what parents can do to comfort their children.

    The session was the idea of Dr. Roma Schiefer, owner of Life and Health Psychology Associates Inc., a private mental counseling practice in Seminole. The session is free to the public and will be at 7 p.m. at Florida Botanical Gardens, 12175 125th St. N in Largo.

    Those who attend will participate in a group session that will be broken up by short educational talks and break-out sessions in smaller groups.

    Christian leaders, as well as a Muslim spiritual leader, also will speak about dealing with religious issues.

    Hawkins said it's important for people to learn the normal responses to traumatic events and then to realize other people are having those same thoughts. Talking about it also is important, an opportunity the session will provide, she said.

    "It's going to be . . . information on what our normal response to this type of thing is and knowing there are a lot of other people feeling the same way," she said. "It's a chance to give people a chance to process what they're feeling and talk about it."

    Hawkins said she will offer advice on comforting children. Parents need to make kids feel safe during times like these. Parents also should point out the positive things coming out of a tragedy, such as the work of rescuers. Letting children contribute, by perhaps giving a few dollars of their own to rescue efforts, can help, she said.

    "They feel they're giving back," Hawkins said.

    For information about the session, call 398-9799.

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