Firefighters spray foam on a propane tank to keep it from exploding during the Cameron Peak wildfire, October, 2020. Photo courtesy Dan Gibbs.

The University of Denver’s Trauma and Disaster Recovery Clinic, which provides therapy to those suffering from abuse, violent crime and vicarious trauma, will also offer services to victims of this summer’s wildfire season.

“Too often we think about trauma in only individualist terms,” Travis Heath, the director of the clinic, told the campus news service. “Natural disasters can have a drastic impact on social structure. It gets in the way of the way the impacted community usually functions.”

Patricia Watson, a psychologist at the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, told The Atlantic that 10-30% of wildfire survivors develop mental health disorders. Firefighters, among others, are susceptible to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or even substance abuse from their experiences. 

This year, the East Troublesome Fire, the second largest in Colorado’s history, destroyed more than 300 homes. Larimer County officials also reported that the state’s largest blaze, the Cameron Peak Fire, damaged 469 structures.

DU’s trauma clinic dates to 2014, and provides confidential therapy, referrals and reflective consultation, among other services.

“We have a team of supervisors who have done work around the world responding to trauma in a variety of ways,” Heath said. “These supervisors are supervising a unique group of student clinicians who are training to engage in trauma-specific work.”

People who wish to participate can set up a screening online or call (303) 871-3626.

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