CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Dr. Rebecca Cowan is a licensed mental health therapist who is volunteering her services through the American Red Cross to help the community of Parkland, Florida, heal following a school shooting that left 17 people dead and dozens more injured.
Dr. Cowan will leave Tuesday and plans on meeting with students, the injured and families of the victims who didn’t survive.
When she arrives, she’ll head to the Family Assessment Center (FAC), where the Red Cross provides resources to victims and community members affected by the shooting. The services range from mental health and spiritual guidance, as well as coordinating air travel and hotel stays.
“To be able to provide support immediately is important for healing to let them know that they’re not alone,” said Cowan, an adjunct professor at Old Dominion University who owns Anchor Counseling and Wellness in Virginia Beach.
“This period is going to be a lot of grieving,” she said. “A lot of people are going to want to be connected with each other, and that’s our job too is to connect these victims with each other to actually support each other and share their stories.”
Cowan plans to stay in Florida until Feb. 26. She will visit hospital and also attend vigils and funerals.
“If people need to talk, we can step aside and talk and debrief,” said Cowan. “You’re not providing that intense counseling that you would provide in a long-term setting. You are simply trying to meet their needs.”