By Sarah Nguyen
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.— Regent faculty are helping bring critical relief to victims’ families and first responders following a mass shooting last Friday at the Municipal Center that left 12 dead and several injured — one of the deadliest in the country this year.
“It’s just an overwhelming amount of grief,” said Dr. Daniel Holland, assistant professor with Regent’s School of Psychology & Counseling (SPC), who answered the city’s initial call for counselors to aid families being notified of the loss of their loved ones.
“As counselors, that’s what we do,” he said. “We jump in the trenches with hurting people, and we walk with them.”
Within hours of the initial response, Holland enlisted the help of his colleague, Dr. Mark Newmeyer, associate professor in the School of Psychology & Counseling, and together they began working with the Virginia Beach Department of Occupational Health and the Virginia Beach Crisis Department of the Department of Human Services to mobilize help from members of the mental health community — including Regent SPC alumni.
That help has run the gamut from joining 130 other counselors at the Virginia Beach Convention Center to provide support to nearly 6,300 city employees, to conducting debriefs with law enforcement officers and even coaching families on how to share the news with their children.
“Whatever needs to be done, we’re just jumping in and doing it,” Holland added.
It’s a boots on the ground mentality that speaks to the very heart and mission of the School of Psychology & Counseling and Regent University’s mandate at large to demonstrate innovative, Christian leadership that is changing the world.
“We’re training professional counselors, psychologists, and people in human services to provide psychological services and apply those in various ways to meet people’s needs,” said Dr. William Hathaway, SPC dean.
That kind of training has helped facilitate significant responses to previous crises including 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, the Haiti earthquake and war-related trauma in Ukraine.
And now in the university’s own backyard.
“There are so many things we don’t understand about this situation,” Holland said. “But coming together, relying on each other, and trusting in God’s character even when we don’t know His hand. … These families are going to be able to work through it, recover, and with support — do it in a healthy way.”
“The community is grieving with those who have been directly impacted,” Hathaway added. “They are not going through this alone. We’re going to stand and walk through this with them.”