Traumatic Loss Seminar 6

Epworth by the Sea -- St. Simons Island, Georgia 

August 10-13 2020 


What is the TLS?

The Traumatic Loss Seminar (TLS) is a specialized program created by Dr. Therese A. Rando and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program (SCLEAP). It is an off-shoot of the highly successful Post Critical Incident Seminar (PCIS), which as of 2/2/20, will have been offered 113 times in 12 states since January 2000. The PCIS is an intensive intervention based upon the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) model created in 1983. It assists individuals to cope with distressing consequences of traumatic incidents and to build resilience for future ones through the use of trained peer support; large and small group work; education about trauma, loss, coping, meaning making, self-medication issues, and family relationships; medical massage; and personal one-on-one consultation with licensed mental health therapists familiar with law enforcement issues, posttraumatic stress, and the trauma recovery method of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Spouses/partners/parents/adult children are invited to attend the PCIS and receive similar services to enable them to understand and support the affected individual and to mitigate adverse impacts upon the relationship and the family. Clinical observation indicates that participation in a PCIS appears to create psychological and social movement for the participants that challenges the progression often found after critical incidents which have been insufficiently processed. It appears that the PCIS offers an experience embodying an unparalleled constellation of “curative factors” that renders it a uniquely helpful experience, unlike any other program in the world.

Through the years, there have been many PCIS participants who attended because of a sudden and traumatic loss in their own life. While feedback indicates that this has been quite useful for such individuals, we have long recognized that there are unique needs created by loss of a loved one under sudden traumatic circumstances which require assistance and information in addition to what is provided in a PCIS. Therefore, after years of planning, the TLS has come into being. It expands upon the traditional PCIS and focuses in a concerted way upon the traumatic bereavement of law enforcement personnel.

What is a traumatic loss and how does it relate to traumatic bereavement and the TLS?

For our program's purposes, a  traumatic lossis one that personally traumatizes the survivor.   Traditionally, this has referred to sudden and unexpected deaths, such as from accident (including deaths from medical error), disaster, suicide, homicide (including deaths from terrorism and war), and from either an acute medical event (such as heart attack) or acute medical illness (such as bacterial meningitis). However, other types of losses can bring personal traumatization as well, such as the loss of a child under any circumstances, the death of a loved one from an illness, or a death that exposes one to extreme vulnerability. At the TLS, attention is focused on the personal traumatization that has been brought to you by your loved one's particular death, irrespective of the cause or how much you expected it. Traumatic losses that bring such personal traumatization cause whet is known as traumatic grief and bring about traumatic bereavement, at least for a while.

The term traumatic bereavement is used when a person’s grief over a death is complicated by the traumatic stress associated with that loss. What happens in such situations is that the death confronts you with both trauma and loss simultaneously. You are personally traumatized in addition to having your loved one taken away. This volatile combination of trauma and loss creates a number of unique complications and extra challenges in the aftermath of your loved one’s death. These are over and above what is seen after a death that while distressing is not as personally traumatizing. Such complications and challenges can be quite serious and have the ability to negatively affect your functioning in your personal and professional lives, either temporarily or long-term. Many problems come should you – or those who seek to help you – mistakenly assume that you are merely dealing with “normal” grief. You are not. Grief after a traumatic loss is very different and much more complicated.

Despite the potential negative impacts of such deaths, there is an enormous amount that can be done to alleviate the difficulties and to support and assist survivors. People who experience traumatic loss can and do live healthy lives after losing their loved one, they just need more information, support, and time to do so. Building upon the traditional components of a PCIS, the TLS has been specifically designed to focus upon traumatic bereavement and to pull together the elements that have been identified to enable you to best cope with your traumatic loss personally and to reduce its impacts upon your professional work.

What should I expect at the TLS?

At the TLS, you will be with other law enforcement personnel (sworn and non-sworn) and their accompanying adult family members, who are currently dealing with the loss of a loved one that has personally traumatized them. As well, you will be with specially-selected law enforcement peers who have confronted such a loss in the past, along with a cadre of TLS instructors, mental health professionals, and chaplains who have had training and experience in helping survivors cope with such loss. This means that you will be surrounded with people who not only understand what you are going through now (or have in the past), but know that individuals can go on to have healthy and productive lives notwithstanding the very real difficulties posed by traumatic loss, and who have the skills to help facilitate your best possible coping with it.

During your four days at the TLS, you will be listening to a number of speakers, as well as to your fellow participants and the peers. You will be invited to participate in a number of one-on-one and group activities. No one is forced to do anything.

Who should attend and what is the cost?

We invite those in the SCLEAP Member Agencies and the wider law enforcement community who have suffered what they consider to be a traumatic loss. These may hve been sudden deaths or anticipated deaths. All deaths must have been experienced at least twelve months prior to the start date of the TLS (that is, on or before Aufuast 10, 2019). Some participants will come with several sudden traumatic losses.

Seminar costs

Food/housing cost: Single -- $616.52, Double -- $1034.08 (Robertson Lodge). There is no fee charged for the Seminar. The only cost to participants (or sending agency) is room and meals.

Write check to: "LECSC"

Mail to: 2501 Heyward Street, Columbia, SC 29205

Date: August 10-13, 2020

Location of Seminar: Epworth by the Sea, St. Simons Island, Georgia

Registration: Link to TLS registration form in PDF

Schedule: Start: Participants should chein in at 4 p.m. or after on Sunday.
End: Participants should be on the road home no later than 3 p.m. on Thursday.

For more information and questions about the TLS, contact:

Beverly Coates, Cell: 803-606-3120, Work: 803-252-2664

Eric Skidmore, Cell: 803-206-8961, Work: 803-252-2664

Comments from participants in recent STLS

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