Heather Hansen, one of our managers, shared that she had an opportunity to practice her skills in Psychological First Aid awhile back and found it to be a natural way to connect with and support staff to make sure they were able to move through an impactful event. For anyone not familiar with Psychological First Aid, here is a description (a bit of a pared down one) provided by Alena Yastchenko.
Psychological First Aid (PFA) is one variation of a supportive intervention aimed at mitigating the stress reactions individuals may experience as a result of a powerful event (any event which may produce a traumatic stress reaction). Timely assistance in the form of PFA from supportive, caring, and compassionate responders (usually peers) has been demonstrated to reduce the initial distress caused by powerful events and promote effective coping, thereby building resilience. PFA is usually offered within 2 hours of the event and no later than 24 hours following the event.
As a first stage of implementing PFA at SA, we trained all Case Managers, Area Managers, Training Specialists, and DBT Facilitators in October-November of 2020. One service area–statewide foster care and in-home services–was identified for pilot implementation. The above individuals were selected as the first group to be trained because (1) they are believed to already possess many of the skills important for successful provision of PFA and (2) the geo-mapping project showed that training this group of people would assure we have someone within one hour of travel to each program in the identified services area.
Heather shared that it was a good experience in using the Psychological First Aid skills for the first time, and it was beneficial to those who had experienced the impactful event. Heather says, “I encourage those of us already trained in Psychological First Aid to practice it as others are experiencing impactful events throughout our work.”