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Responding to Orlando

Wednesday, July 27, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sierra VanderHoogt
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As the details surrounding the tragic events in Orlando continue to unfold, WSPA would like to extend its deepest sympathy to the victim’s families and the broader communities involved. In the past week, a serious dialogue is rapidly developing, led by LGBT communities across the nation, to address discrimination, hate crimes, and gun violence. The focus on this broader conversation is sparked by catastrophe, and can be fueled by intense emotions during a search for understanding and the need to enact positive change. As psychologists, we know the importance of comforting and properly caring for those affected by such a tragedy and aim to help anyone in need, while avoiding the spread of misinformation.


Attached, you will find an information sheet from Glenda Russell, Ph.D., that provides over two decades of research on the psychological impact of hate crimes, specifically against the LGBT community. As Dr. Russell explains, the shooting targeting an LGBT night club was a hate crime, in the sense that hate crimes victimize not only those who were directly impacted, but also the communities of which those individuals are members.


The document provides helpful tips and topics for responding to the shooting in Orlando and a means of comforting your LGBT clients. It is vitally important for psychologists to offer correct information to their clients and media in times of distress, especially to avoid the false assumption that this event is simply a matter of mental illness. Be willing to talk openly with your clients about their communities, and how they personally reacted to the events in Orlando. Share your knowledge, and remind others that this horrible moment is only one in a broad fight for equality.




The APA has provided resources on their homepage ( with quick access to resources related to this tragedy. Information is available on talking with children about this event, coping with mass shootings, and how to develop resilience in the face of terrorism.  Additional information on prevention of gun violence and the impact of hate crimes can also be found here.  New resources will be added as they become available.




In addition to talking to your clients and helping them cope with tragedy, encourage clients to be active in their closest communities. Individuals can refocus their feelings towards this tragedy into positive action: donate blood, volunteer to work with the Red Cross on their relief efforts, or explore becoming a part of the Disaster Response Network to help in future situations ( 




WSPA Board of Trustees:

William Thorbecke, President

Sonia Venkatraman, President Elect

Russell Hanford, Treasurer

Michael Badger

Andrea Pascarelli

Joanna Patten


WSPA Staff

Marvo Reguindin, Executive Director

Sierra VanderHoogt, Office Administrator

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