Psychological First Aid Training June 2018

Gifted to the Charlottesville Mental Health and Wellness Community by Region Ten and the Thomas Jefferson Medical Reserve Corps, these three days of Psychological First Aid and Skills for Psychological Recovery were an incredible resource put on by two leaders in the field of Trauma Recovery, Dr. Russel Jones and Dr. Patricia Watson. Botanica Mobile Clinic Herbalist, Sara Agelasto, attended the first day of the training on Psychological First Aid and recorded a few salient points from her notes and the lecture slides. She hopes this will serve as a resource for reference in an emergency.

The most important take away was that we all need to be aware of the disaster recovery plan in Charlottesville and surrounding communities. We also need to individually assess honestly what skills and abilities you can provide in the event of a disaster or emergency. One organization that is helping this effort in Charlottesville is the Thomas Jefferson Medical Reserve Corps. They will hold volunteer meetings on July 12 and July 18 from 5 – 7:30. Contact for more information.

3 Types of Traumas
1.Natural Disasters
2.Technological Disasters
3.Interpersonal Violence

Five Empirically Supported Principles: Framework for Intervention
1. Connectedness
2. Safety
3. Calming
4. Hope
5. Self-Efficacy

Immediate Response
1. Establish safety and security
2. Connect to restorative resources
3. Reduce stress related reactions
4. Foster adaptive coping
5. Enhance Natural Resilience

Factors to Consider Prior to Relief Work
1. Personal Considerations
2. Health Considerations
3. Family Considerations
4. Work Considerations

Requirements for PFA Providers
1. Ability to work in chaotic and unpredictable environments
2. Capacity for rapid assessment of survivors
3. Ability to provide services tailored to timing of intervention, context and culture
4. Ability to tolerate intense distress and reactions
5. Accept tasks that are in initially viewed as mental health activities
6. Work with diverse cultures, ethnic groups, developmental levels, and faith backgrounds.
7. Have the Capacity for self-care


When Delivering PFA
1. Observe First
2 Ask Simple Respectful Questions
3. Speak Calmly and Slowly without jargon.
4. Be patient, responsive, and sensitive
5. Acknowledge the survivors strength.

They are not going to remember what you say to them, they are going to remember how you make them feel.

1. Make assumptions about experiences.
2. Assume everyone will be traumatized.
3. Labeling reactions as symptoms or speaking in terms of diagnoses.
4. Talking down to or patronizing the survivor.

Psychological First Aid Core Actions:
1. Contact and Engagement – Scenario with Woman who lost her husband in a fire.
2. Safety and Comfort – Scenario of shelter opened by a local church after a disaster.
3. Stabilization – Presence, Grounding, Breathing
4. Information Gathering – Determine Needs of Additional Care/Resources needed.


5. Practical Assistance – Identify most immediate needs. – Scenario of Plane Crash at Airport
6. Connection with Social Supports – Scenario of 84YO woman forced to move after a disaster.
7. Information on Coping – Longer Term Care – Provide Resources. Simple information Stress, Trauma, Anger, Guilt, Shame, Substance Abuse. Reminders not Triggers.
8. Linkage with Collaborative Services

Other Resources Worth Looking Into:
SAMHSA Podcast – Cultural Awareness
NCTSN – National Child Traumatic Stress Website
American Psychological Association – PTSD Guidelines
Help Happens Here

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