Emergency & Psychological Preparedness: Supporting Survivors and Ourselves During Crises


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Monday, 03 June 2013

This webinar was jointly presented by the National Partnership for Community Training, of Gulf Coast Jewish & Family Community Services, and the National Capacity Building Project, of The Center for Victims of Torture., on May 13, 2013.


“The first thing to remember is that we all have a common bond with our patients” says Dr. Richard Mollica of Harvard Medical School in this webinar on emergency preparedness. “This is because we are all affected by these traumatic events, one way or another.” By taking this broad approach to supporting survivors and healers during crises, Mollica outfits listeners of all occupations with skills for successfully preparing for and responding to traumatic events.

As a professor of psychiatry at Harvard, as well as a physician with first-hand experience in responding to traumatic events, Mollica proves a capable teacher of this frequently discussed and often complex topic. Through an easy to follow four-point approach to emergency preparedness and a ten-point model for responding to trauma, Mollica aptly instructs agencies on how to best reach out to clients dealing with physical and emotional trauma from emergencies, as well as ensure the wellbeing of the healers and counselors responding to these cases.

In his discussion of emergency preparedness, Mollica offers insight on topics ranging from the introductory “What is an emergency plan?” to how to have a conversation with clients during and immediately after emergencies. Mollica additionally offers ten points for supporting survivors of crises on a long-term basis. These points include insightful and occasionally overlooked areas of concern, such as whether or not a client is experiencing sleep disturbances, whether they know that their family is safe, and whether or not they have been able to maintain contact with their children throughout the traumatic event. Moving forward, Mollica’s points also include various approaches to therapy, such as expressing solidarity and empathic and sensitive listening.

To round out this guide for support during and after crises, Mollica turns his attention toward the healers themselves. Recognizing that the emotional impacts of the traumatic event are likewise felt by counselors and physicians, Mollica advocates that an emergency preparedness plan include an established support system for healers seeking assistance with difficult cases. According to Mollica, this support structure is an essential element of moving past the traumatic events of a crisis, for it recognizes the common bond an emergency creates between counselor and client. It is in this of spirit solidarity and sharing that Mollica invites all listeners to join in the conversation of this webinar.



Coping With a Disaster or Traumatic Event, CDC


In conjunction with the webinar, this information guide recommends how to prepare and respond to the emotional and physical effects on survivors of torture and trauma.

The following related resources may also be helpful:

PDF of the webinar's PowerPoint slides

Healing Invisible Wounds by Richard Mollica

Community Healing and Support Handout

You can also view this webinar on the GCJFCS website.

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