TFT for Survivors of Japanese Earthquake & Tsunami

ATFT UPdate, Issue 17, Summer 2011

Sudden Destruction in Japan

by Ayame Morikawa, PhD, TFT-VT

On March 11, 2011, a terrible earthquake and tsunami struck northern Japan. In it’s wake it left 15,019 people dead, 5,282 people injured, and 9,506 people missing as of the time of this report. Approximately 500 kilometers or 311 miles of coastline were affected some of which was totally destroyed. We felt the earthquake in Tokyo as well.

As soon as we were able, our Japan Association For Thought Field Therapy CRT (JATFT), sent two psychiatrists, 2 psychologists (including myself), and 1 nurse to Miyagi National Hospital. The hospital was established in 1939 and has 14 departments but they do not have a psychiatry department. Therefore, our team served as their psychiatry department. The hospital is located in the very south part of Miyagi Prefecture at the border of Fukushima Prefecture. It is located 60 kilometers or roughly 37 miles from the atomic power plant.

The town, Yamamoto-Cho, had approximately 17,000 inhabitants and they lost 900 lives. This town is famous for its strawberry and apple farms. The apple farms are in the mountainous area and they stayed safe, but only 5 strawberry farms were left out of a total of 400 strawberry farms. Most of them were located along the coastline.

Arranging Trauma Care

One of our aims is to support nurses who are working there and those who have lost their families and houses. One of our members, Dr. Nakahara, D.D.S., who works at the hospital is trained at the Diagnostic TFT level. She arranged our schedule and found that a nursing care facility, and a nursing school, around the hospital had lost many old people, workers, and some small children. She therefore arranged our support for them as well.

People who live in the affected area are quite traditional so there are very few psychiatric facilities, psychologists and counselors. CRT’s of psychological care were sent from other prefectures but gaining access in order to help was difficult because of the inhabitants’ stigma towards mental health care. Some shelters had signs on the doors, “No Counselors, No Media.” Even though trauma is a natural response to disaster, many people feel ashamed if they are cared for psychologically.

During our visits, and because of their reluctance to be treated, we felt it was too early to get in touch with the refugees in the shelters. However, the hospital found some people we could help and gave us a chance to visit shelters. We visited all six shelters in the town.

Overcoming Stigma

We were introduced as “meridian therapists,” so many old people thought we were acupuncturists. It was actually a good way to start. Many of the older people complained of physical pain. We were able to teach TFT mainly in small groups. Sometimes we taught it individually when they would start crying. The hospital planned my TFT seminar at night. More than 60 people joined, including public service people, doctors, nurses, teachers, and defense forces.

Using TFT For Secondary Trauma

Many massage therapists offered body care while they listened to the refugee’s stories. “A man tried to hold all three of his children’s arms in the water but he could only hold onto one.” In another case, a woman told her she held on to her old father’s arm, but he left her by letting go saying, ‘go and be safe!.’ The therapists were having a difficult time sleeping after being told those stories so I showed them how to tap using TFT to give them relief and sleep.

During this visit we treated 5 individuals, 30 in a group, and 50 refugees. Although two elementary schools and one junior high school were destroyed by the tsunami, fortunately the children were safe. Nevertheless, the children saw the tsunami and some of them lost their family members. Since the schools want help, we are planning to send JATFT school counselors next time.

The city of Miyagi is about 400 kilometers (50 miles) from Tokyo. The roads were destroyed and only one highway was available. Everywhere we went there were heavy traffic jams. Dr. Tanekura and I drove cars and it took us 10 hours. I personally used Collarbone Breathing CB technique to help relieve my shoulder tension.

We at Japan ATFT really appreciate  ATFT. We thank you for your great assistance and warm support.

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