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

Botanica Mobile Clinic Responds on August 12 in Charlottesville

I am deeply moved by all the offerings the herbal and wider community is making. While we are all finding ground again, direction and connection to where we can best serve, the needs for mental health support is great in Charlottesville. You all have made such generous offers so we would like to let you know the greatest needs at this time. Tea bags of calming herbs, best in the boxes, Rescue Remedy, essential oil spritzers, and donations so we can get body work to folks suffering from PTSD. You can make donations to our 501-C3 at Please make check out to Open Hands and put Botanica in the memo. Paypal works as well when you go to our site. I

For physical donations please send to Botanica Mobile Clinic, 208 Douglas Ave, Charlottesville VA 22902

What has been the most powerful feeling is that of solidarity. To watch people gather across the nation protesting this heinous way life helps us all feel so much support.

What happened here has raised so many questions. How a torch carrying mob of known Supremists and Nazis can walk down our streets, chanting and threatening then actually become violent against students is baffling. We all know if the Mexican farm union workers or BLM would attempt that they would maybe walk a half a block and who knows their fate. This was a very, very scary long procession.

The prayer is that this is the time when the deep shadow rises and is seen for the final time. They are Named and it is time to understand what sources these people and how to prevent more from falling prey to the wounds and shame that blind these men to courage and truth. The fact that all of those AK47s were here in such angry, tight clenched hands and hearts and a massacre did not happen is nothing short of a miracle. The collective of churches and congregations joining forces surely is spreading protection and strength.

Thank you all for your prayers, songs, notes and offerings. We are wealthy in love and to have seen how the plant medicine went straight to the hearts of this community was an honor to witness.

Our Inspiration: The Herb Bus

Free herbal clinics have become a very well known and loved model around the country as the need for natural medicine has been on the rise yet ever more inaccessible. We are basing our model on Atlanta’s Free Clinic founded by Lorna Mauney-Brodek.

The Herbalista Free Clinic provides free herbal care via our mobile clinics, the Herb Bus and the Herb Cart, to underserved communities in Atlanta and around the country.  In addition to our clinical services we also offer herbal education, training other herbalists on how they can start up mobile clinics in their neck of the woods.

While the Herb Bus focuses on serving the homeless and other vulnerable populations, we recognize that under the current structure of healthcare in the U.S., WE ARE ALL underserved. Herb and food based tonic therapy have been a necessary part of ourevolution and survival as a species.  Access to healthcare is a human right and the Herbalista Free Clinic’s mission is to defend this basic right by nurturing the health of the people who live across this broad and beautiful land. – Lorna Mauney-Brodek