Beginning this week for 8 weeks, Kaiser Permanente is offering free crisis support groups to communities impacted by the Borderline Bar and Grill mass shooting and the devastating Woolsey wildfire. Licensed mental health professionals will lead the sessions, which will be held in the California cities of Thousand Oaks, Ventura, and Woodland Hills.
The shocking Borderline shooting occurred on November 7 in Thousand Oaks, killing 13 people, including the suspect. The next day, the destructive Woolsey fire ignited near Simi Valley, eventually spreading through parts of Ventura and Los Angeles counties. From loss of loved ones to ravaged homes, those affected are trying to put the pieces of their lives back together in the aftermath of these tragic events.
“These communities are dealing with multiple layers of tragedy — there has been an onslaught of trauma, destruction and grief” said Anna Garcia, PsyD, a licensed marriage and family therapist and the director of Behavioral Health at Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center. “Many people in the Ventura area are also still dealing with the effects of last year’s Thomas fire. These events strike at the very core of people’s sense of safety and equilibrium.”
The weekly support groups focus on teaching participants self-care skills to help them recover from trauma, work through their grief, and begin moving forward in their lives. Attendees also receive assistance connecting them to other resources and services.
“We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond — how we can use negative experiences to make us stronger and more resilient,” said Garcia. “Providing a place for people to come together and share their feelings helps them process what happened.”
Borderline Tragedy Support Group in Thousand Oaks
Kaiser Permanente, 145 Hodencamp Road, Suite 100, Thousand Oaks. Thursdays, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Begins November 29. Facilitated by licensed marriage and family therapists Nicole McCarthy and Diana Bennett. Call 805-449-3442.
Wildfire Support Group in Ventura
Kaiser Permanente, 4949 Market Street, Ventura. Community Room Building (outside in front of the main building). Wednesdays, 3:30 to 5 p.m. Begins November 28. Facilitated by licensed marriage and family therapist Lorena Ferrari and Melissa Cole, a licensed clinical social worker. Call 805-449-3442.
Wildfire Support Group in West San Fernando Valley
Kaiser Permanente, 21263 Erwin Street, Woodland Hills. Wednesdays, 5 to 6:30 p.m. Begins November 28. Facilitated by Adriana Rubio, a licensed clinical social worker. Call 805-449-3442.