No one can fail to notice that whenever we have a tragedy, such as happened in Cumbria, it is reported that counselling is freely available to all.
This morning I was watching the news and the college, from which the 3 students who were tragically killed in a road accident in South Africa, is providing counselling for all other students.
Do we need, in such circumstances, busloads of professional counsellors immediately on the scene?
In my experience any tragedy has left me dumb, both in mind and spirit, for a varying number of weeks. That appears to be the usual human reaction of the grieving process. Would it have been of any help to me to have spoken to a professional counsellor/psychotherapist within hours of the event? Not in my case because I wouldn't have been able to express my feelings coherently. For me my friends were my anchors and listened at any time of the day or night to my ramblings.
When I was young there were no counsellors available because family and friends took on the role. Even though someone didn't belong to any particular church, the minister would appear to offer his condolences and words of comfort in cases of bereavement or serious illness. Although their visits were seldom appreciated at the time, with hindsight their presence did offer a certain status to the grief suffered. It seemed to be the seal of approval for crying, moaning and all the other human reactions to grief.
I'm not suggesting there is no place for counselling in our society because of course there is. Many people require such services and NHS provision is sparse. Psychotherapy and psychiatric services are stretched well beyond their limits and these services can offer a great deal to some.
But is it really necessary to set up counselling services after every tragedy? I've been trying to find out how many people attend such events but no numbers are available. Maybe these professionals do replace the minister/vicar/ priest from years gone by but, if I remember correctly the religious representatives when I was young, had the good sense to leave the grief-stricken for a few days before they made any approach.
Are these counselling services we hear of today the 'politically correct' approach to supposedly helping the bereaved or are they a replacement for family and friends who feel they can no longer cope with a friend or family member(s) who is seriously distressed? A bit of both maybe.