Mental Health Professionals

If you have not been trained in crisis intervention, you may be unsure of your clinical role with victims. Those trained in psychological debriefings may have the expectation that a standard CISD will be the intervention of choice. In reality, natural or cultural healing rituals and/or more informal and subtle interventions by MHP and other support personnel appear to be the intervention of choice. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself just hanging-out with victims in a very informal fashion – listening to their stories and meeting basic needs (information, drink, food) etc. You may not feel like you are doing much, but you are. In fact, your informal connecting with people often opens the door for more personal and in depth conversations. On the other hand, you may find that the interaction between community members is meeting many of their needs. When this is the case, let it happen, be supportive, and do what you think is needed.

If you find yourself in an interpersonal support role with a victim, consider the following informal protocol (and I mean consider … use your common sense and behave in a way that you sense will meet the need).

If you have been asked to meet with a group of people from the same community, behave in much the same way. Note, you must be skilled with group process. This is not the time to learn as these can be very challenging sessions. Also note that you are a stranger or outsider to them. You need to be seen as a “safe” support person. You have to earn the right to be inside their group. Behave as a guest. Here are my suggestions: