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The Georgia Commission on Family Violence (GCFV) in partnership with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) plan a collaborative expansion of GCFV’s Support for Survivors of Murder-Suicide Project (the Project). The new training initiative lays the groundwork for a swell in therapeutic and supportive services available to survivors of family violence-related murder-suicide incidents in Georgia.

Sadly, Georgia often ranks in the top ten states for the rate at which men murder women. Most often those homicides occur at the hands of current or former intimate partners. There were more than 1,500 family violence-related fatalities in Georgia between 2011 and 2020, 35% of which resulted from murder-suicide incidents. A family violence murder-suicide occurs when a person kills one or more victims, including a current or former intimate partner, then dies by suicide. Each of these incidents leaves behind numerous family members and friends, referred to by the Project as “survivors of murder suicide” (survivors). Murder-suicides often shatter the equilibrium of survivors’ lives. Losing a loved one, particularly in a sudden and violent manner can be traumatic and for many, losing two loved ones at the same time in such a manner can exacerbate and complicate the grieving process. What’s more, few resources are available to support these survivors and traditional grief counseling is often inadequate when working with clients facing the complications of a violent death.

The Project is seeking 40 clinicians interested in joining a murder-suicide survivor response network (the network) to address the unmet needs of this underserved population. Ideal candidates for the network will possess familiarity with the complexities of family violence, will be either licensed clinicians or interns in the process of obtaining licensure and under supervision, and will represent diverse geographic regions of Georgia. Clinicians joining this network will be part of a groundbreaking cohort, as Georgia’s effort to support family violence murder-suicide survivors in this capacity is the first of its type, nationwide. The primary goals of the network are to provide increased access for survivors to trained clinicians and to connect survivors to each other so as to minimize post-incident isolation during the grieving process. 

All clinicians joining the network will be trained in the Restorative Retelling (RR) model during one of three training opportunities. RR has been used by professionals across the nation in their individual, family, and group work. The likelihood of a client coming in with the complication of a violent death homicide in their symptom cluster is increasing.  Traditional grief counseling is often inadequate when working with this complex issue.  Restorative Retelling is a therapy model that fosters clients’ innate resilience to counterbalance trauma. 

Restorative Retelling is an evidence-based approach that has been shown to “significantly decrease symptoms” comparing pre and post measures. While RR has been provided for all violent losses; this course is designed specifically to apply the model for those working with survivors of murder-suicide.

Clinicians interested in joining the murder-suicide survivor response network must complete an application and upon acceptance, complete RR training. The RR training will be offered three times to meet the variety of scheduling challenges and learning styles of interested clinicians.  

The following three group training options are planned (additional specifics TBD):

  1. Group A (Virtual Session) - 10AM-12PM on Fridays beginning July 9, 2021 thru August 27, 2021
  2. Group B (Virtual Session) - 1:30PM-3:30PM on Mondays beginning September 13, 2021 thru November 1, 2021
  3. Group C (In-person Session) - 8AM-5:30PM, November 11-12, 2021, Location TBD (tentative location is the Westin Jekyll Island in Jekyll Island, GA -- attendees will be responsible for their own room and board)

Completion of all sessions of your selected group training is mandatory to obtain the RR certification. Clinicians are strongly encouraged to attend the scheduled sessions live, however with prior notice attendees who are unable to attend the live session may be allowed to review a recording of the session within seven days and submit their post-training session evaluation for credit. (This is limited to two sessions per attendee).

Clinicians selected for the network will also be required to attend a one-hour virtual training on the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program (CVCP) on October 18, 2021 (Tentative Date). This training was created specifically for clinicians accepted to the network and will cover everything you need to know in order to bill for survivor contacts (and all victims/witnesses of crime) directly through CVCP in the future.  

Clinicians accepted to the network will receive a scholarship covering the cost of the virtual or in-person training fees, continuing education credits (pending approval from MFTGA, LPCGA and NASWGA), training materials and certification as an authorized Restorative Retelling clinician (valued at $750). 

In return for completing the Restorative Retelling training and the Crime Victims Compensation Program training, attendees will:

  • Be given the opportunity to act as a Support for Survivors of Murder-Suicide Group Facilitator for which you will be financially compensated for your time. (Each is a closed 10-week group and sessions are planned to begin in January 2022.); and
  • Be placed on an exclusive list of providers referred to work with survivors of murder-suicide in Georgia for individual or family counseling.  

For additional information, please contact GCFV’s Support for Survivors of Murder-Suicide Project Coordinator, Kylee Elliott, via email at [email protected] or by telephone at 404-615-3267.