Two Faith-Based Agencies Offer Free Mental Health Counseling to Long Island Residents Still Struggling with 9/11 Aftermath

NORTH BELLMORE, N.Y.– APRIL 22, 2005 -- Lutheran Disaster Response of New York (LDRNY) and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, announce their partnership on a program that will provide free mental health counseling to Long Island residents still struggling with the emotional, spiritual or behavioral wave affects of 9/11 trauma.

The one-of-a-kind innovative program, called Faithful Response, is a faith-based program to match Long Island residents seeking mental health services and support with state-licensed and specialized trauma counselors. The free program is largely geared toward the brave men and women who were involved in rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero, according to Michael Arcari, program director, under the support of both the Lutheran and Catholic churches. “Since church is often the first place many people turn for help, it made sense to have a faith-based program,” said Dr. John J. Scibilia, executive director of Lutheran Disaster Response of New York.

Faithful Response was made possible by a September 11 recovery grant from the American Red Cross Liberty Disaster Relief Fund. LDRNY, a leader in providing services to those most affected by 9/11, was one of 65 agencies receiving funding from the American Red Cross September 11 Recovery Program as part of its mission to provide longer-term support services to people affected by the events of September 11. Community-based agencies in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia will receive $20 million in recovery grants.

Faithful Response will provide counseling that integrates several therapeutic approaches to trauma, including cognitive behavioral treatment, hypnosis, somatic experience and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) This multi-disciplinary approach has been recognized for its capacity to heal trauma quickly and comprehensively. Many people who witnessed the events of 9/11 are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and don’t even realize it, according to Scibilia. Some symptoms of PTSD include fatigue, chest pain, agitation, insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, anger, substance abuse, increased alcohol use, body pain, anger at God, difficulty making decisions and many more.

Faithful Response is fortunate to have Dr. David Grand, an internationally known EMDR expert, as its clinical director. Dr. Grand, author of Emotional Healing at Warp Speed: The Power of EMDR, has a private psychotherapy practice on Long Island and in Manhattan. The Long Island resident has worked with many PTSD victims and speaks around the world on techniques to speed its healing. Working with Dr. Grand are the Rev. Tom Taylor, deputy director of LDRNY for Long Island, and pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in North Bellmore, N.Y., and Joann Heaney-Hunter, Ph.D., associate professor of theology and director of Core Curriculum at St. John’s University in New York. She is an expert in Christian marriage and family life.

Several of LDRNY’s partners also received grants, including Lutheran Family Health Centers/Family Support Center, the New York Disaster Interfaith Services, of which LDRNY is a member; the September 11 Families Association and September Space, which LDRNY initially funded through a grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Agencies such as Church World Services and the Council of Churches of the City of New York were also funded. 

“These grants will fund community-based programs that are especially well-suited to assist those whose emotional wounds are still healing,” said Alan Goodman, Executive Director of the September 11 Recovery Program. Funds granted to 43 of the 65 non-profit agencies will help provide mental health services such as counseling and support groups; training for social-service professionals and clergy to identify and address the mental health needs of people affected.  The 22 remaining grants will support access to recovery such as providing information on both culturally competent and broad-based 9/11 services through outreach to diverse communities; offering mental health screening programs; and training for professionals who have frequent contact with affected individuals.