Psychological First Aid (PFA): An Immediate Assistance to Deal Trauma
Self Help Social

Psychological First Aid (PFA): An Immediate Assistance to Deal Trauma

Psychological First Aid

1) Psychological First Aid (PFA) is a scientific way of lessening symptoms associated with stress due to unavoidable circumstances in life. PFA is based on the notion of resilience which aids in the successful recovery from a traumatic event, natural disaster, or simply a personal crisis. Moreover, PFA, not only provides natural healing, but also encourages flexible coping, and facilitates adjustment to overcome the unavoidable situations objectively.

Following a disaster, the most effective thing one can do for people or families is to administer psychological first aid. PFA entails assisting individuals in accessing physical, emotional, and social support as well as a sense of empowerment so they can feel protected, connected to others, peaceful, and hopeful. It is usually employed within a couple of hours, days, and weeks following a major incident. Psychological First Aid does not depend on mental health professionals (psychiatrists or psychologists) but rather on humanitarian abilities (such as kindness, affection, empathy, altruism) an individual possesses. Hence, PFA can be stated as a “kind and sympathetic response to a fellow human being who is suffering and may require assistance.”

Psychological First Aid (PFA) is proposed to be a straightforward and practical means of assisting in diverse areas such as shelter homes, workplaces, educational institutes, hospitals, residential areas and community settings.

2) Why Use Psychological First Aid (PFA)?

Disasters have an impact (ranging from physiological to psychological and social to spiritual/religious) on everyone who experiences them, and diverse reactions might emerge at various points both during and after the catastrophe. Below are the symptoms experienced by the person who fails to deal with the unavoidable situations of life:

  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Shaken religious faith
  • Hopelessness
  • Helplessness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Physiological discomfort
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Sorrow
  • Shock
  • Aggressiveness
  • Social Isolation
  • Self-Blame
  • Lack of confidence

3) Steps To Offer Psychological First Aid (PFA)

Psychological First Aid (PFA) can be offered to anyone without any socio-demographic discrimination such as age, sex, region, religion, socio-economic status, and so on. Any individual who has experienced any traumatic incident can benefit from the services of psychological first aid.
Providing Psychological First Aid (PFA) follows four basic steps: (1) Recognizing the utmost pressing needs (2) Elucidating the Necessities (3) Preparing an Action Plan (4) Taking action to fulfill the necessities. Let’s understand these steps one by one:

Step 1: Recognizing The Utmost Pressing Needs

The first step is to ask about the survivor’s needs and his/her basic requirements. The primary needs, most of the survivor’s demands include food, water and shelter. These requirements should be addressed at once without any delay. Among these needs, other issues a survivor asks for include locating their missing close ones, adapting the prior routines, finding financial coverage for vanished property, and receiving caregiving assistance for family members. Although these needs are secondary ones the survivor should be assured that these needs will also be taken care of.

Step 2: Elucidating the Necessities

The next step is to encourage the survivor to explain the problems in detail. Doing so will help prepare a realistic plan for dealing with the situation positively.

Step 3: Preparing an Action Plan

After that, attempt to build an empathic relationship with the survivor so that they can express his worry and the possible outcome to overcome the situation. Moreover, the survivor should provide information in terms of getting food, clothing, shelter, mental services, financial aid, mental health services, and help in finding loved ones (family members and friends).

Step 4: Taking Action To Fulfil The Necessities

Lastly, is to help the survivor to act on the plan and take action on it. For instance, guide them in fixing an appointment with the required service or help him/her in getting the services in time.

4) Goals Of Psychological First Aid (PFA)

Based on the research, the following goals of Psychological First Aid (PFA) have been discussed below:

1. Promoting Safety:

  • Lessen contact with the threat of harm.
  • Assist individuals in fulfilling fundamental necessities such as food, water, and shelter.
  • Aid people find emergency medical services.
  • Help to provide physical and emotional relief.
  • Provide information to acquire the basic needs of life.

2. Endorsing Calmness:

  • People who are emotionally overburdened or bewildered.
  • Creating a stress-free environment.
  • Paying attention to those who wish to share their feelings, emotions, and life experiences.
  • Listening to the survivors without being judgmental.
  • Try to be kind and compassionate to the survivors of disaster or trauma.
  • Provide all the relevant information about the situation (trauma or disaster).
  • Teach them practical coping skills for dealing with the situations.

3. Developing Connectedness:

  • Help people build healthy interpersonal relationships (families and friends).
  • Attempt to stay kids with parents or other close relations.
  • Respect the cultural norms regarding age, religion, gender and family structures.
  • Help assist in meeting immediate requirements and apprehensions

4. Enhancing Self-Efficacy:

  • Involve people in fulfilling their fundamental requirements.
  • Help them with making suitable decisions.
  • Assist them to prioritize the problems and resolve them.

5. Staying Hopeful:

  • Express hope that the situation/s will get better.
  • Stay there/keen to assist them.
  • Encourage the survivors of the trauma that their emotions/feelings are normal.
  • To help them understand and manage their emotions as well as others.

In conclusion, Psychological First Aid (PFA) provides a kind, and consoling presence to meet fundamental requirements and lessen the psychological suffering of trauma-affected survivors. Furthermore, it helps nurture their coping strategies and encourages them to feel more control over the situations and develop resilience in themselves as well as among close ones (family and friends) to manage the situations objectively.

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