Trauma counselors feeling the pain after 21 killed in Uvalde school shooting

Trauma counselors helping in Uvalde need mental health care of their own

A counselor who helped in Sutherland springs and is now helping in Uvalde says she and her colleagues are taking care of their own mental health to continue helping others.

SAN ANTONIO – A counselor who helped in Sutherland springs and is now helping in Uvalde says she and her colleagues are taking care of their own mental health to continue helping others.

Ashley Jesse is a counseling supervisor at the Children’s Bereavement Center in San Antonio. She’s also a mom and a South Texas community member grieving the loss of 21 precious lives after a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde last Tuesday.

“I cried a good bit this morning for these children and their families and really and truly for the society and the nation. It’s hard to put into words,” Jesse said.

Even for someone like Jesse, who has counseled Sutherland Springs survivors for years, it’s hard.

“I’ve been able to talk to counselor friends and family, so I’m doing that. I’m talking to others, and that helps me to be a better counselor,” she said.

Jesse’s emotion is what fuels her motivation.

“It gave me the motivation to say, ‘There’s something I can do in this situation. I can help people even though I’m having a hard time,’” Jesse said.

As it’s often said -- you can’t pour from an empty cup. As a counselor who hears about trauma every day, Jesse and her colleagues are trained to practice self-care, and she’s utilizing that now.

“Doing something you enjoy. It’s OK to do that. Especially important to do those things when you’re grieving and when we’re overwhelmed because it helps us to regulate our emotions,” Jesse said. “Sometimes we have to get counseling ourselves to deal with issues like secondary trauma.”

Jesse said exercising and spending time with family, friends and pets is crucial to mending a broken heart, no matter who you are or what you do for a living.

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About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.