Coping With Terrorism

Terrorism by definition is designed to evoke terror in people and for most people it does a pretty good job of achieving its intent. Terrorism in our world is a chronic stressor that each person has to find a way to build resilience to and cope with. This page provides tips on how to cope with terrorism related trauma.

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Coping with Trauma Related to Terrorism

Knowledge or experience of random, unprovoked acts of violence often leaves people feeling helpless, hopeless, vulnerable, and angry. Terrorists intentionally attack defenseless citizens so that all individuals feel vulnerable, not just those in the military or those taking a stand against a set of ideas or beliefs.

We are all aware that acts of terror happen every day somewhere in the world, but there are times such as the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma in 1995, the attacks on 9/11/2001, the bomb explosion at the Boston Marathon in 2013 and the recent terrorist attacks in Paris where it really hits close to home. At these times there are people who are personally affected by being witness to the events, people who are affected by the loss of loved ones, those who are triggered because of previous trauma, and those that are affected vicariously by exposure to the loss and grief of others. Terrorism is global and affects everyone at some point in some way.

Photo of American Red Cross worker comforting someone.

It is important to take good care of yourself, try to maintain your usual routine, and maintain hope. Heroes are everywhere and we often find they emerge at times of crisis and trauma. Sometimes the heroes are ordinary citizens who intervene in the face of terror as it is unfolding, but sometimes the heroes are those who generously donate, serve, and tirelessly act to assist others in the wake of terror.

Many have noted that Americans have an enormous ability to come together as one people in times of need whether that be in response to a natural disaster, an act of terror, or another tragedy. One of the most powerful ways to recover from grief and loss is to seek social support. Reach out to others, talk, listen, hug, find ways to support one another and focus on all the care and love that exists all around each of us and our world.


The American Psychological Association has a number of good articles on building resilience and coping with trauma related to terrorism. Below are a few tips from these articles along with the links to the full articles. If you are struggling, feeling hopeless, or depressed please call Counseling & Psychological Services and schedule an appointment to come in and speak with a counselor at (850) 474-2420.

Tips for coping with trauma related to terrorism:

  • Take a news break. Listening to or watching unending coverage of tragic events can negatively impact your ability to cope. Limit your exposure.
  • Reach out to others. Talk about your worries and seek support from others.
  • Maintain your routine as much as you can.
  • Focus on the positive. Most individuals are outraged by terrorism, meaning most people are good and that is a wonderful fact to focus on.
  • Seek out professional care if you are having trouble coping.

Building Resilience to Manage Indirect Exposure to Terror

Disasters and Terrorism