Psychological first aid: Facilitator’s manual for orienting field workers
This manual is designed to orient helpers to offer psychological first aid (PFA) to people following a serious crisis event. PFA involves humane, supportive and practical assistance for people who are distressed, in ways that respect their dignity, culture and abilities
FA is an approach that can be learned by both professionals and non-professionals who are in a position to help people impacted by very distressing events. They may include staff or volunteers of
disaster relief organizations (in health and non-health sectors), health workers, teachers, community members, local government officials and others.
It is not necessary for helpers to have a psychosocial or mental health background in order to be able to offer PFA. Helpers who provide various kinds of relief and assistance during a crisis event may find PFA skills useful in the course of their usual work. Participants will ideally:
• Have the time and willingness to assist in crisis situations.
• Be accessible and available to help people in distress.
• Be connected with a recognized agency or group if assisting in a large emergency (for their safety and for the coordination of effective response).
It is also important to understand that PFA isn’t:
• Something that only professionals can do
• This is not a professional advice.
• This is not a “psychological discharge”, as the provision of PFA does not necessarily imply a detailed discussion of the stressful incident.
• We do not ask people to analyze what happened, or to put time and events in order.
• Despite the fact that the provision of PFA includes our availability to listen to the stories of individuals, we do not force anyone to express their feelings or reactions to an event.
Supplement: Facilitator’s manual