Local counselors organize free hurricane support group for community

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 9:36 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - After the physical and emotional toll Hurricanes Laura and Delta caused Southwest Louisiana, two local counselors are now trying to provide support to community members.

Brent Woods of Woods Counseling Services and Joel Daugherty of Lake Area Counseling are working together to hold a free community support group for anyone that was affected by the hurricanes.

Both counselors said they are speaking with more clients who are hurting and feeling alone.

“I’ve just been seeing a lot of my clients [who have] been coming in with increased levels of stress and just almost PTSD symptoms that they’re having because of the two hurricanes back-to-back," Daugherty said.

Both counselors recognize the pain not only their clients are experiencing but the entire community. But they’re working to help change that by providing a safe outlet for residents with the hurricane support group.

“[It’s] for everyone to come together to kind of process the emotions they’re feeling right now and we also want to provide a place for resources," he said. "We can kind of talk about what’s available in the community; we’re also going to have a kids group so the kids in elementary school are welcome to come, there will be a licensed therapist that’s there.”

The trauma people have experienced is all too real for the counselors. The very building Woods once held his counseling sessions in is destroyed.

“I was hoping it wasn’t too badly damaged but I came back about two days after [Hurricane] Laura; luckily I was able to save a lot of my stuff inside but it was just completely devastating what I saw," Woods said.

A devastating moment he said shows people counselors need help too.

“At the end of the day we’re human and we need support just like anybody else," he said. "For myself, [what I hope] to gain out of this support group is just to be able to talk about my own stuff, to be real with people.”

While this isn’t a counseling session, both men said they hope the support group will help people process what they’ve been going through in the aftermath of the hurricanes.

The support group will meet on Mondays at 6:00 p.m. in downtown Lake Charles. Pre-registration is required. The group will practice social distancing and those in attendance are required to wear a face mask. To register for the support group, click here.

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