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Delayed Responses to Community Trauma

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

Delayed Responses to Community Trauma

The brain is a very powerful thing. It protects us from things we cannot handle. When a tragedy or traumatic event strikes a community, it’s hard on all of us. Everyone responds to trauma differently and there is no right or wrong way to grieve and process the events that happened.

The police shooting in downtown Dallas was barely over a month ago but our community it still feeling the effects of what happened. Many of us took some time the first couple of days after the shooting to reach out to loved ones, show our support for the Dallas Police Department (#backtheblue and #dallasstrong), and some even donated money, time, and resources to help support and heal our community.

These strategies can be very helpful when it comes to healing after a traumatic event, as these small acts help us feel in control and helps us feel connected to others and believe that we are making a difference and doing something positive to help.

Some may also notice that the effects of the trauma hit them later. It is common for the brain to block traumatic and painful events from our consciousness in order to protect us. When the brain receives messages that we are safe and the threat has been removed, little by little the brain will release tid bits of the traumatic memories into our consciousness and we begin the work of healing and processing what happened. If you have ever experienced a very traumatic event before, then you know this feeling well- the event seems like a blur and at first you can’t remember any of the details, but over time they come back in the form of flashbacks or nightmares that you can’t seem to escape.

It’s normal for the effects of a tragedy or traumatic event to have delayed responses- it’s our brain’s way of making sure we are physically and emotionally safe enough to process what happened.

As we hit the one month mark after the Dallas shooting, many people may begin to notice small signs of trauma aftereffects creeping back into their awareness and new symptoms emerging. Often these symptoms may appear at first as physical manifestations (headaches, stomachaches, fatigue) and may eventually turn into emotional and psychological symptoms (anxiety, depression, flashbacks, irritability).

If you are noticing any of these symptoms emerging- you are not alone, and we are here to help. Let’s come together as a community and help each other heal and show that we are united. Therapy can help bring the trauma and pain more into your awareness in the safety of the therapy session, so that it can be processed and released. Once you are aware of the pain and understand where it is coming from, you will have the power to control it and eventually release it.

HeadFirst Counseling is currently offering reduced fee sessions to members of the Dallas Police Department to help law enforcement heal from this tragedy. If you are a member of the Dallas community and are noticing signs of trauma aftereffects, give our office a call at (469) 665-9416 to find out about our therapy services to help you begin the process of healing.

Laura McLaughlin is the Founder and Therapist at HeadFirst Counseling in Dallas, TX. Laura works with children, teens, and adults who have experienced trauma to help them overcome their past. Read more about Laura and HeadFirst Counseling at

Laura can be reached by contacting the HeadFirst Office at (469) 665-9416 or

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