Fairfield University offers free forums and drop-in counseling for those affected by the tragedy in Newtown

Submitted by Lynn Holforty on January 29, 2013

In the wake of the tragic school shootings in Newtown, Conn., last week, Fairfield University’s Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) will offer two public discussions and several pro bono and drop-in counseling sessions for students, faculty, alumni and the general public. The events are part of a series of activities the School has offered since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including counseling staff at that school, where several GSEAP students have interned.

“We were shocked and heartsick when we learned of this tragedy,” said Susan D. Franzosa, Ph.D., dean of GSEAP. “We have a longstanding relationship with Sandy Hook School and the Newtown School District. The teachers, administrators, school psychologists, and counselors of Newtown – some of whom are our alumni – have been outstanding models and mentors to our students. The GSEAP faculty immediately came together to support and assist our colleagues in Newtown. We realized too that our own students, graduates, and instructors would need support as they return to their classrooms.”

GSEAP’s Educational Studies and School Psychology programs will sponsor “Moving Forward After Sandy Hook: A Conversation for Student Teachers” on Tuesday, January 8, 2013, at 4 p.m. at the Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Center on campus. The free session is designed for student teachers, supervisors, seminar instructors and school library media specialists, but it is also open to the public.

On Wednesday, February 13, 2013, the School’s Counselor Education and School Psychology programs will host “Community Conversation on Family and Trauma,” a free forum with licensed clinicians for individuals and families in our community to receive support in dealing with profound loss or sorrow. The event will take place at 7 p.m. at a location to be announced at a later date.

On weekdays from Thursday, January 3 through Friday, January 18, 2013, The Koslow Center for marriage and Family Therapy, located on campus, will provide pro bono counseling support and consultation to individuals, couples and families dealing with the tragedy. Licensed and experienced clinicians will be available by appointment. For more information or to make an appointment, call (203) 254-4000, ext. 2306.

The school will also offer three, free drop-in sessions at the Koslow Center. Each has a theme and is geared towards a certain group, but the general public is welcome to attend.

The first session is on Tuesday, January 8, 2013, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Sponsored by the School Psychology Program, it will be geared to school psychology students, alumni and supervisors.
The second session is on Tuesday, January 15, 2013, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is sponsored by the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Program and will be of interest to MFT students, alumni and supervisors.

The last session is Friday, January 18, 2013, from 1 to 4 p.m. Sponsored by the Counselor Education Program, it will be geared to Counselor Education students, alumni and supervisors.

GSEAP has close ties to Sandy Hook and other schools in Newtown, as many student teachers and school psychology candidates have student taught or interned there. Faculty members with clinical training and connections to the school staff have provided counseling to Sandy Hook employees in the wake of the massacre, which left six staff members and 20 children dead. GSEAP faculty and staff have also sent condolences to the Sandy Hook families with whom they have worked and to alumni who have been affected.

Student teaching seminar instructors have been asked to include lessons focused on how to work with support professionals, such as school psychologists and counselors, if they are concerned about particular students and how to integrate understanding, care and relationship-building into their courses.

GSEAP administration, faculty and staff considered many options before offering these events and counseling sessions, Dean Franzosa said.

“The people of Newtown are being overwhelmed with offers of help – as well as some well intentioned but sometimes intrusive visits from a host of universities and agencies,” she said. “We need to be especially sensitive to their situation. We want to be available but not intrusive. We realize that recovery will take a long time. We expect to be there, not for a few days or weeks, but for the long term.

“My heartfelt sympathy goes out to all those affected as we try to weather this tragedy.”

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