Calgary Registered Psychologist: Emergo Counselling Services, featuring Dr Karen Massey
Dr Karen Massey Registered Psychologist
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Dr Karen Massey likes to share what she learns at courses attended and she summarizes some articles of interest.

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Holodomor November 18, 2013

A powerful article for those of Ukrainian descent, or for those who have friends and extended family members of Ukrainian heritage was written by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Alberta Provincial Council on November 18, 2013 in the Calgary Herald, B5. The importance of remembering the Holodomor is so that the world can be in awareness and prevent similar events. You may not even be aware, since itís now 80 years later, that there was a horrific Ukrainian famine/genocide in 1932-33.

Holodomor is a Urkainian word with two parts: Holod means hunger, and mortyt means a slow, cruel death. Starting in 1932 all food, grain and livestock were removed by Soviet police and soldiers from areas of the Ukraine. In addition the countryís borders were sealed, denying people the opportunity to search for food, leading to starvation. At the height of the genocide 25,000 people daily were dying.

The shocking aspect is that this famine was an artificially induced famine. Many of Ukraineís religious, artistic, intellectual and political leaders were arrested, deported to slave labour camps or executed if the mentioned the Holodomor. There was a sweeping attack on everything Ukrainian. The population was reduced by about 25%.

Floods Cause Mental Damage July 1, 2013


An article in the Calgary Herald caught my attention after the massive flooding in the Calgary area the end of June, 2013. "Flooding causes mental damage, too" by Karin Klassen, July 1, 2013 describes the emotional impact of flooding.

Karin Klassen states that floods are the most common type of natural disaster, with the likelihood that there will be an increase in flooding due to global warming. In other words my opinion is that the Calgary, High River, Okotoks, and Bragg Creek areas need to better prepare for the potential emotional damage that floods may create along with all the physical damage.

If you have symptoms such as: unable to get to sleep or stay asleep , nightmares, flashbacks, problems with relationships change of eating patterns cause weight loss or gain, or increased use of alcohol or drugs to cope, then you need to seek therapy for help with anxiety, depression or even trauma-if symptoms continue over one month from the flood then you may have Post Trumatic Stress Disorder.

Research from the British Health Protection Agency about psycho-social effect of flood from 2004 to 2010 provides a good overview to help us understand floods. This research listed the common reactions to a traumatic event, specifically the steps are:

  1. Shock
  2. A type of euphoria because the person has survived;
  3. Hope
  4. Connection with community to get medical and psychological care if needed;
  5. Grief and mourning over the loss
  6. Frustration starts to build as the amount of work takes its toll and the public attention and help ceases;
  7. Resentment builds
  8. Anger develops

This anger was shown in the Calgary newspapers when the residents of High River in particular did not receive as much help nor as quickly as they needed.

The unique aspect of a flooding crisis is thought to be different compared to earthquakes because floods are increasingly predictable. If they are not predicted in time then there are accusations and blaming the governments. In the case of the Calgary flood the weather specialists and people who monitor the water water flow are unfortunately in different departments and until now there have not been any organized communication systems.

The other unique aspect of a flood is that, unlike fire, where the fate of your belongings are usually clearly gone and there is no mess other than cinders to clean up-- flooding creates a labor intensive, drawn out seemingly endless time spent clearing, hauling sometimes contaminated soil and water out of a home, finding belongings amidst the muck and contamination, deciding if it is salvageable, or not, shedding a tears with certain throw-away prized possessions, photographs, art work, and jewelry in particular.

Lastly, in addition to dealing with the crisis of the flood, this type of traumatic situation can trigger memories of other distressing events, thereby making it more difficult to emotionally recover from the current situation. In a way it's like losing a loved one, then another loved one dies shortly after, compounding the grief.

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