How a Fort Wayne counselor would help siblings witnessing Elijah’s death
FORT WAYNE, Indiana (WANE) – According to court documents relating to the murder of 9-year-old Elijah Ross, the young boy’s siblings saw their brother beaten to death.
On Monday, WANE 15 reached out to a counselor who explained what kind of trauma this can cause a child.
Jessica Zimmerman is a Certified Mental Health Counselor and CEO and Founder of the Willlow Center of Healing. She has practiced for 20 years and has experience with children, adolescents, adults and families.
She explained that she was following Elijah’s story and said that she was heartbroken for him and his brothers. Throughout her years of practice, she has worked with many patients who have suffered traumatic loss, but she cannot recall ever having encountered such a traumatic incident with parents accused of abuse and siblings. who witnessed it.
Zimmerman focuses on trauma in his practice and assumes that this is not a one-off incident and that there is a likelihood of continued violence.
She would use a treatment called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, also known as EMDR, which is an interactive psychotherapy technique used to relieve psychological stress. Zimmerman added that a case like this can cause extreme trauma, not only by witnessing it, but also seeing the person who is supposed to be the provider and protector causing the pain.
“Again, EMDR would be used to target this moment, or any visualization or image they have of the storyline in an effort to help them recognize that they did the best they could, they did everything they could. they could, ”Zimmerman said. “That it wasn’t their fault. Children tend to blame themselves and that is where the long term trauma comes from. The point is to really help them recognize that it was not their fault and that they did all they could.
Other techniques Zimmerman would use are making sure the child is in an emotionally healthy and loving home, where he or she is allowed to be able to feel whatever emotions he or she is feeling. She would also coach legal guardians on what to say and do with children to help create more bond and attachment.
When it comes to what the community can do to help tackle child abuse, Zimmerman suggests people follow their hunches and be more vigilant about the well-being of children.
“If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, we often push it down and justify it with ‘oh, we don’t want to be too reactive, or dramatic or create a problem.’ But especially with the present times we live in, people are stressed, people are overwhelmed, ”Zimmerman said. “Unfortunately, when people are stressed, the rates of child abuse that we know from history increase.”