222 – Addressing Violence and Terrorism in Therapy

Collective Trauma as a Clinical Issue
Patrick Dougherty

While we know the regular eruptions of violence from mass shootings, police brutality, and acts of terrorism that dominate the news cycle often trigger anxiety, anger, and genuine despair in many of our clients, most of us have no training in how to bring up the impact of these collective public traumas in therapy, let alone help clients process their reactions to them. This workshop will offer a protocol for addressing these issues with clients in a way that doesn’t impose our own anxiety or political agenda on the conversation and keeps it from devolving into an unproductive rant about the “sorry state of the world.” You’ll explore:

  • Specific questions to ask clients to assess if they’re suffering from the symptoms of collective trauma—and how to address the heightened anxiety and anger, or hopelessness and withdrawal
  • A step-by-step approach to process your own response to the trauma in the world in a way that goes beyond personal care and allows you to better understand and be present with your clients
  • How to keep conversations about the social and political aspects of collective trauma therapeutically relevant and focused on its impact on the client


Patrick Dougherty, MA, LP, a psychologist in private practice for more than 35 years, has been a social activist and working with social despair and collective trauma for over 40 years. He’s the author of Qigong in Psychotherapy and A Whole-Hearted Embrace.

Scroll to Top