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Reader comment: words and advice from psychotherapist Antony Brown

Like many others, I am shocked and saddened by the tragic events in Nice on 14th July 2016. I was on Promenade des Anglais on the day of the Bastille Day attack, having spent two lovely days with my wife in our favourite city. 

As we left for the airport on a beautiful sunny morning, it was impossible to envisage the devastation that would occur only a few hours later that day on the very same pavements we had walked.

Nice has become a very special place for us over the years, our apartment in the Old Town being somewhere familiar to escape to, a safe place for our family and a place where we've had many great times with friends. 

We were the fortunate ones. All of the friends we have met in Nice over the years were safe and unharmed. However, we'll never know if the friendly strangers we've met in bars, shops, taxis, restaurants or on the beach survived or not. 

The remarkable bravery of those who witnessed and tried to prevent the attack has been incredible. Like many, I feel the need to help: to provide something meaningful, to offer support to people distressed by this terrible event. So what brief professional advice can I offer? 

In the aftermath of the Bastille Day attack, it is important to remember that distressing reactions are normal following an event like this. Many people will be experiencing a range of emotions whilst our minds struggle to make sense of the incident. It is usual to find ourselves having thoughts about the attack, maybe even nightmares and we may occasionally feel deep emotion - feelings of anger, grief, sadness or anxiety. A sense of foreboding that it may happen again can have us on edge and jumpy or even prevent us from doing the things we normally do.

Children are quite resilient, but may feel confused and frightened. They will need a means of expressing how they feel, such as through stories or pictures. I would advise trying to limit their exposure to frightening images of the incident on TV news broadcasts. 

It can be helpful to talk to someone about how you might be feeling in the aftermath of such a traumatic event, even though this can be incredibly hard as our natural reaction is to push unpleasant thoughts and emotions away. Keeping contact with family and friends can provide a source of comfort. The most important advice I can give is to be at peace with feeling upset, it's an entirely normal reaction to an incredibly distressing event.

These events are replicated throughout the world all too often and we live in uncertain times. However, I hope the people of Nice continue to show their remarkable resilience and remain determined to retain their way of life. 

I'm sure they will.


Antony Brown, a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist, is the CEO and founder of CBT Clinics, a multi-award winning organisation with over 2,000 psychological therapists specialising in providing psychological support throughout the world for people who have experienced trauma. Support can be arranged by secure video, online, telephone and face-to-face. 


Tel: +44 (0)1904 620781