Infographic Text: How to Give Psychological First Aid
After a natural disaster or terrorist attack, there will probably be many people at risk. If you want to provide emergency psychological support to survivors, remember ASSIST:
Approaching the individual.
- Introduce yourself and state any organization with which you can connect.
- Be polite and professional- remember to say please and thank you.
- Find a safe, private place to talk if possible.
Stabilize their feelings.
- Communicate in a calm, warm tone. The person may be in shock, so you may need to repeat it occasionally.
- Offer to guide them through some grounding exercises, such as taking slow, deep breaths.
- Ask for permission before hugging or touching them.
Serve their needs.
- Ask the person what they need. Don't assume what their priorities are.
- If they don't know what they need, offer practical support such as a blanket or water.
- Help them find missing family members or friends.
Tell them about the facts.
- Give them specific information about the incident and any ongoing relief efforts.
- Do not make false promises. Avoid generalizations like "everything will be alright".
- Be honest if you don't know the answer to a question.
Support their story.
- Respect the person's privacy. Don't force them to talk about their trauma or share personal information.
- Allow the person to delegate whatever spiritual or religious significance he or she desires in the face of judgment.
- Let them cry or silence if needed.
Turn them over for further services.
- Immediate survivors at the nearest relief station. Do not push them if they are not ready to move yet.
- Provide written contact information for long-term services such as trauma counseling.
- Remember that children may need extra direction and care.
- About PFA. (n.d.). The National Traumatic Tone Network for Children. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2pY5z51
- Psychological first aid for first responders [PDF]. (n.d.). SAMHSA. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2NKy0Bb
- Snider, L., van Ommeren, M. & Schafer, A. (N.d.). Psychological first aid: A guide for field workers. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2ZzKmSP
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