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Statement from the American Counseling Association on our National Crisis of Gun Violence

Aug 09, 2019

Professional Counselors care, are concerned, and can help

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The following is ACA’s statement on our national gun violence crisis and the trauma caused by these heinous acts (esta declaración también está disponible en línea en Español/this statement also is available online in Spanish):

It is with great sympathy for impacted communities across the country that the American Counseling Association (ACA) extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of those killed and injured as a result of gun violence.

Communities in our nation too often suffer from the impact of gun violence. The mental and emotional harm that it causes families, communities, and society is profound. Individuals may experience a wide range of trauma responses, including distractability, difficulty focusing, dwelling on the event, sleeplessness, anxiety and depression. This is why ACA:

  • Strongly discourages attributing these atrocities to mental illness—rather than considering the complex interplay of the misuse of guns and targeted acts of gun violence; and
  • Recognizes that all communities suffer greatly from gun violence and need resources and help.

“We know that gun violence is a major threat to the physical, emotional, and mental health of individuals and communities,” ACA Chief Executive Officer Richard Yep said. “Long after the initial shock of a tragedy subsides and the press, politicians and first responders address the needs of the communities, professional counselors remain and are prepared to help them navigate the sustained period of grief that may follow.”

“Licensed Professional Counselors are trained to identify those impacted by violence, to assess their needs, and to appropriately intervene, not only for PTSD but also for other serious mental health conditions,” ACA President Heather Trepal said. “As a result of training and experiences, professional counselors in all settings understand the range of emotions and fears the public experience when their lives are impacted by tragic events or when they hear about these events.”

The American Counseling Association seeks partnerships with all mental health professional organizations in our support of communities and in our collective recommendations to improve policies that combat these horrific events.

For anyone affected by gun violence: Seek help. ACA provides the following free resources:

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