Trauma connections

Martha Jacobi, a pastoral psychotherapist in private practice and a pastor of St. Luke Lutheran Church, Manhattan, is an expert in trauma.

Today she still helps New Yorkers post-Sept. 11, as she did right after the attack. She also consults with an organization that helps families heal from the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., a suburban community 80 miles from ground zero. Jacobi was invited by the Resiliency Center of Newtown, an organization related to Tuesday’s Children, a group formed in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

“A noticeable number of people in the Newtown area also have a connection to Sept. 11,” Jacobi said. “In both cases this is complex existential trauma. It’s the kind of deeply personal, deeply communal tragedy that rattles people to their core, that shakes up any and all previous assumptions of how life should be.

“9/11 was on a large scale and affected people all over the world. If you take that energy and compress it, it’s the same type of energy but held within a small town. The people who died there were young children and their teachers, and there’s a profound feeling that this is not how life is supposed to be.”

Reflecting on her counseling vocation, Jacobi said: “This is my calling. This point has stayed with me since 9/11 and keeps me grounded. I stand on Christ and in Christ—this is who I am, who God has called me to be. In the parish and in the therapy office, my entire ministry has been focused on helping people heal from trauma.”

For more stories on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, see the related articles below.

Wendy Healy
Healy is a freelance writer and member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Brewster, N.Y. She served as communications director for Lutheran Disaster Response of New York following the 9/11 attacks.

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