Phase 3

Phase 3 - Intervene

Create and Implement an Intervention

Your task in the intervention phase is to enable your client system to make needed or wanted changes. This is often challenging. In Hudson City, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Diane, there are many issues to weigh. What do you need to do, and what do clients need to do? How do you define your “client”, and how will that affect how you proceed?

The Psychological First Aid (PFA) model illustrates some of the intervention activities that you can engage in alongside your clients. PFA focuses on providing basic care, comfort, and support to those during and in the immediate aftermath of disasters and is designed for delivery by mental health and other disaster response workers who provide early assistance to affected people. As you plan your intervention approaches, remember to think about how factors such as gender, income, race/ethnicity, and disability may affect individuals’ access to resources, services, and tangible support. Your interventions should, wherever possible, involve the affected populations in the planning, so that they can shape the approaches to meet their needs. The results of your assessment should inform your intervention plans.

Some of the intervention activities you can engage in alongside your clients include:

1. Establish a human connection in a non-intrusive compassionate manner

You do not have to wait for someone to approach you. A simple greeting along with your name and pronoun is usually enough to start a conversation.

2. Enhance immediate and ongoing safety and provide physical and emotional comfort

Help people reach a safe place. Call for emergency medical assistance if necessary. Help people follow emergency instructions. Enter a scene only when it is safe.

3. Be kind and calm to orient emotionally overwhelmed or distraught people

Establishing a kind and supportive environment for clients and other workers can be as simple as handing someone a bottle of water or a blanket.

4. Actively listen

When some people are stressed, they like to talk about it. Others prefer to keep to themselves or only talk to people whom they know. Do not pry. For those that do talk, it is important to take time to listen carefully and concentrate on what the person is saying. Sometimes just being there and not saying anything can be comforting to someone in distress.

5. Offer practical assistance and information to meet immediate needs and concerns

During a disaster, clients and workers sometimes ignore their own basic needs of eating, hydrating, and resting. You may also help others connect with social support networks, including family members, friends, neighbors, and community resources.

6. Support adaptive coping efforts and strengths

There are different ways of coping in stressful situations. Social workers intervening in disasters can build on people’s strengths to support reliance on existing, adaptive, coping responses.

7. Give accurate and timely information

Workers and clients need timely and accurate information about the disaster and response efforts. Misinformation and rumors add to stress. Guide them to the appropriate sources or resources for accurate information.

8. Provide information that may help clients cope effectively with the psychological impact of disasters

Include referrals to community resources and advocacy to help clients access needed services and resources.

Source: American Red Cross. (2017). Psychological First Aid: Helping Others in Times of Stress.

My Intervene Tasks

Task 1

ExExplore the various ways in which people respond when they are distressed. What are some things that people do in response to stressful situations that may not be helpful in their coping? What are some of the things people may do that help them to cope with stressful situations? How could you reinforce an adaptive coping response?

Task 2

Following the PFA model, create your intervention plan. List the goal(s) you hope to accomplish in specific, measurable terms, and craft a plan for meeting that goal that includes the steps in the process.

Task 3

As you think beyond the immediate crisis, identify possible interventions that could increase the future resilience and protection of Hudson City. How might you intervene in policy—at the organizational, local, state, and federal levels—to better protect populations in the event of a disaster? What are the most promising approaches to reduce future vulnerability? How could you incorporate that work into the recovery from Hurricane Diane?