Department of Family Therapy Dissertations and Applied Clinical Projects

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Family Therapy


Tommie V. Boyd

Committee Member

Anne H. Rambo

Committee Member

Christine A. Beliard


Gun violence has flooded our society with human-caused disasters, making mass shootings an unfortunate new normal. In the wake of large- scale shootings, the United States Government and other agencies provide financial support and resources to the affected community in hopes of bringing solidarity to the fractured system. This financial reinforcement and other funding sources have been utilized to build resiliency centers within a certain distance of the unnerving events. Resiliency facilities play a pivotal role in helping communities recover from human-caused disasters such as mass shootings. These resources are becoming customary across the country, with resiliency centers in Newton, CT, Orlando, FL, Las Vegas, NV, Aurora, CO, El Paso, TX, Pittsburgh, PA and Charleston, SC. Studies have highlighted the rise of mass shooting events in today’s society but research about resiliency centers, healing, and recovery processes after such an event is lacking. Between 1982 and 2011, a mass shooting occurred roughly once every 200 days; however, between 2011 and 2014, that rate accelerated, with at least one mass shooting every 64 days (Cohen, Azrael, & Miller, 2014).

This study was conducted to bring awareness of the individuals who dedicate their time to an exemplary wellness center that promotes healing, hope and resilience for the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. The purpose of this study was to share and explore the voices of an exemplary trauma informed wellness center team on what works well at a resiliency center that promotes healing, hope, and resilience for the survivors and families of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Using appreciative inquiry as the method of data collection created a deeper understanding of the team’s experiences of what is working and future dreams for the organization. The findings of this study answered the research question as well as highlighted the teams collective theme of being committed to the community and organization and future goals of the organization. Further research will also support additional training and understanding of the role of resiliency centers nationwide following an act of mass violence.