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ACT 2020 Featured Capstone:

Disastershock: How to Cope With the

Emotional Distress of a Major Disaster

Sue Linville Shaffer, Ed.D, LMFT

Available in 26 Countries, 26 Languages and on 6  Continents 



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Describe Your Capstone Project.

Disastershock, authored by Sue Linville Shaffer, Ed.D.LMFT, Brian Gerrard PhD. and 3 others is a book dedicated to helping families and communities cope with emotional stress caused by natural disasters such as the Covid-19 Pandemic, earthquakes, wildfires, tsunamis, and floods as well as man-made disasters including terrorist attacks, etc. Acclaimed by educators and trauma experts, Disastershock offers free and easy-to-access practical support in 26 languages to families, children and communities suffering around the globe. Available free via the Disastershock website ( on or, Disastershock is currently being distributed in more than 26 countries on 6 continents. In Phase 1, a global team of 100+ was recruited and met weekly to build cohesion and support translations into 26 languages in 12 weeks. Phase 2 included bi-weekly meetings of a core Global Response Team (@20 people) to promote further global distribution, expand the website to include additional video demonstrations of healing techniques, expansion of expressive and healing arts options, a Facebook page, and expanded research options. We plan to build and maintain a Disastershock Response Team which will be available to respond to future disasters by initiating the distribution of Disastershock quickly in selected areas of global need.

Describe Its Impact.

The impact of the Disastershock project generated a significant impact on the Global Volunteer Team. It was a consistent theme amongst the 100+ Team members that they expressed deep appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity to work together and share perspectives with a diverse, generative, group of open-hearted individuals. Additionally, they valued working together on a meaningful project that offered an opportunity to respond in a positive way to the current suffering in the world. Meaningful relationships were formed. The fact that together we 1). expressed compassion and encouraged the sharing of personal stories including facing and overcoming present-day hardships and 2). modeled the expression of abundant gratitude for the individual and group work being done, and 3). tracked progress on the shared goal of translating and distributing the Disastershock book resulted in a rewarding and successful experience for the team as a whole. As a whole, the impact of our project is yet to be determined. However, the fact that we successfully translated Disastershock into 26 languages and made it available free of cost on websites as platforms including and Apple iBooks is significant. Similarly, it is being distributed in 26 countries on 6 continents is noteworthy. Nonetheless, much work remains to be done.

How has the ACT Program helped you become an Ambassador of Compassion?

The ACA Capstone Project has provided a unique opportunity in which to practice the skills and refine the tools required of an Ambassador of Compassion. It is a rare opportunity when one is invited to create a 10-month long project, offered the freedom to choose a topic that is totally self-determined about which one has a deep interest or passion and to commit oneself to the discover the way in way in which to bring that passion to life in a form where it can be shared with the world. Meanwhile, to have the full support of wise, compassionate teachers who provide guidelines, teachings and encouragement also enable one to meet the challenges necessary to successfully birth a meaningful compassion-based project that potentially reaches individuals, communities, and in some cases the world! In a word, I felt totally “met” and accompanied in identifying and practicing the skills of Self-Awareness, Humility, Inner Strength, Self -Compassion, and the Recognition of Common Humanity.

How has your life been transformed by participating in the Applied Compassion Training (ACT)?
I am not certain that I can say my life was transformed by participating in the Applied Compassion Training, but certainly, it has been an experience of growth, deepening, and bringing increased intention to meeting each day’s challenges by embodying the principles and practice of compassion moment-by-moment. Importantly, identifying one’s own strengths and limitations, accepting the strengths and limitations of others, bowing to the inevitable, dizzying speed of change that supplies disappointments and unexpected demands in our ever-changing world require that we commit ourselves to skillful compassion as a requirement, not a choice. Accepting that this is a requirement, not an option if we are to survive on our beautiful planet is perhaps a transformation in my thinking. I am grateful for the opportunity to have participated in the Applied Compassion Training, and I am committed to taking what I have learned and utilizing the principles to guide both my personal and professional life as I go forward.


Be the change!

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