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Meridian double murder-suicide spurs discussion on child therapy

Harsch said that hands on and familiar therapy styles work best, with toddlers to teens. (CBS 2 News Staff Photo)

Sunday's double murder-suicide in Meridian left three people dead, leaving many to wonder, how do you care and support children who've witnessed such a traumatic event?

CBS 2 News talked to counselors on the painful process of coping with grief and the resources that are available to children.

Meridian Police said, during the shooting, the 13-year-old child escaped once the shooting started.

But, two younger girls were kept inside the home for several hours.

"We know that these kind of traumas have very long term effects,” said social worker at St. Luke’s CARES Lara Foster “So, it's really important that we're connecting these kids to therapists and ongoing support systems."

Tricia Harsch, a social worker at Warm Springs Counseling Center, said that, for children, the road to recovery is different.

"They're not going to sit like adults and be able to talk for 45 minutes and really process it through,” Harsch said.

And, when a family member is associated with the trauma, it complicates the process even more.

"This can create some very conflicting feelings of how am I supposed to feel moving forward,” Foster said.

Harsch said that hands on and familiar therapy styles work best, with toddlers to teens.

"They work through struggles they're having in the play,” Harsch said. “And, so they do that in the sand tray. They do that with dollhouse therapy."

But, the biggest factor in therapy is time.

"An initial shock of trauma, you know, they not be ready to walk into a counseling office within the first week or two of experiencing something like this,” Harsch said.

This way the child can start the recovery process on their own terms.

"It's very important that we give them some space and some time to move through that grief process when they're ready to,” Foster said.

Warm Springs Counseling Center offer therapy for children starting as young as three years of age.

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