Breakout Session: Pamela Kircher, MD, CHT
Childhood Near-Death Experiences: Initial Adjustment Process and their Long-Term Impact
As resuscitative techniques become increasingly successful, more people of all ages survive cardiac arrests. 17-30% of survivors report a NDE. That percentage may be even higher in children. Hence, more children than ever before have had a NDE. This presentation will give a summary of the research of childhood NDEs, including the work of PMH Atwater, Melvin Morse, and Cherie Sutherland. Currently, ACISTE under the leadership of Dr. Jennifer Elam is currently conducting a survey of childhood STErs including NDErs. Preliminary conclusions from that survey will be discussed. As in the case of adults with NDEs, the response that children get from sharing their experience greatly affects the adjustment process. Ways that counselors, friends, and family members can help childhood NDErs integrate their experience will be presented. These include listening in a nonjudgmental way, allowing children to disclose their experiences in their own timing and to the persons of their choice, being knowledgeable about NDEs in general and childhood NDEs in particular, and recognizing the common challenges of the adjustment process. Finally, drawing on her own experience and the experience of other adults who had childhood NDEs, she’ll discuss the long-term impact of a childhood NDE.
Dr. Kircher had a NDE during an episode of meningitis when she was six-years-old. She never doubted the reality of the experience but didn’t tell anyone else about the experience for many years until after she had become a family doctor. For the past 25 years, she has counseled people with NDEs and other STEs and has introduced many healthcare professionals to these exceptional experiences through presentations at hospitals, national conferences, and through articles and her book, “Love is the Link: A Hospice Doctor Shares her Experience of Near-Death and Dying.” Dr. Kircher’s education includes an undergraduate degree in Zoology from the University of Missouri, a medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine and completion of a residency program in Family Medicine from the University of Texas at the Health Science Center in Houston, Texas. In 2011 she became a certified hypnotherapist and has used that modality to support people as they adjust to life after exceptional experiences.
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