More than ever before, the prevalence of traumatic events has reached a level of global saturation that positions each and every person as a potential victim. Whether it is a mass shooting at a shopping mall or university, an airline disaster or a severe weather event, the likelihood that either you or someone you care about will experience a traumatic event at some point during your lifetime is a definite possibility. With this in mind, what support is available to those who might be traumatized by a crisis event?

The concept of Psychological First Aid (PFA) is receiving considerable attention in the world of disaster mental health. The Medical Reserve Corps, created by the Office of the Surgeon General, has recommended PFA as a standard model of mental health intervention in early response to disasters and other traumatic events. In the corps’ Psychological First Aid: Field Operations Guide, PFA is defined as: “[an] evidence-informed modular approach for assisting people in the immediate aftermath of disaster and terrorism [in order] to reduce initial distress and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning.”

Now that we know what PFA is, let us consider how it is accomplished.

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