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Phase 3: Create and Implement an Intervention

Your task in the intervention phase is to enable your client system to make needed or wanted changes. This is challenging in Hudson City particularly during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Diane where there are so many issues. What do you need to do, and what does the client system need to do? Think about this before proceeding to the next steps.

The Psychological First Aid (PFA) model illustrates some of the intervention activities that you can engage in with, or on behalf of, your client system, to provide basic care, comfort, and support to those during and in the immediate aftermath of disasters. PFA is designed for delivery by mental health and other disaster response workers who provide early assistance to affected communities, children, families and adults.

As you plan your intervention approaches, remember to think about how factors such as gender, income, race/ethnicity, and disability status may affect individuals’ access to treatment, resources, and tangible support. Your interventions should, wherever possible, involve the affected populations in the planning, so that they are more likely to be able to shape the approaches to meet their needs. The results of your dual assessment should inform your intervention plans.

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Some of the basic intervention activities that you can engage in with, or on behalf of, your client system, include the following:

  • Establish a human connection in a non-intrusive compassionate manner

    You do not have to wait for someone to approach you. A simple greeting along with your name is usually enough to get the conversation started.

  • Enhance immediate and ongoing safety, and provide physical and emotional comfort

    Help people to reach a safe place. Call for emergency medical assistance if necessary. Help people follow emergency instructions. Enter a scene only when it is absolutely safe.

  • Be kind, calm and orient emotionally overwhelmed or distraught persons

    Establishing a kind and supportive environment for clients and other workers is as simple as handing someone a bottle of water or a blanket to keep them warm.

  • Actively listen

    When some people are stressed, they like to talk about it. For others, they prefer to keep to themselves or only talk to people whom they know. Do not pry. For those that do talk, it is important to take time to listen carefully and concentrate on what the person is saying. Sometimes just being there and not saying anything can be comforting to someone in distress.

  • Offer practical assistance and information to meet the immediate needs and concerns

    During a disaster, clients and workers sometimes ignore their own basic needs of eating and drinking water, maintaining personal safety, resting and sleeping. In addition, connecting with social support networks, including family members, friends, neighbors, and community resources may be helpful.

  • Support adaptive coping efforts and strengths

    There are different ways of coping in stressful situations. These include positive and negative responses from people coping with stressful events.

  • Give accurate and timely information

    Workers and clients need timely and accurate information about the disaster and response efforts. Misinformation and rumors add to stress. Guide them to the appropriate sources or resources for accurate information such as the police, fire, or city officials.

  • Provide information that may help clients cope effectively with the psychological impact of disasters

    Include referrals to community resources and advocacy to help clients access needed services and resources.

    (American Red Cross, 2012, Psychological First Aid: Helping Others in Times of Stress, 3-1.)

My Intervene Tasks

Explore the various ways in which people respond when they are distressed. What are some things that people do in response to stressful situations that may not be helpful in their coping? What are some of the things people may do that help them to cope with stressful situations?

Following the PFA model outlined in this phase, create your intervention plan. List the goal(s) you hope to accomplish, in specific, measurable terms, and craft a plan for meeting that goal that includes the steps in the process.

Our knowledge of systems theory informs us of the inevitability of changes to other systems when one system undergoes a shift. Think about the likely outcome of successful intervention beyond this client system. What are some of the possibilities?