Psychological Services

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6.1 General Principles

The following principles include and extend those in the Community and
Personal Support Services Guidelines.

FIRST DO NO HARM. Interventions can have negative as well as positive effects and therefore they should be continually monitored.

Interventions should favour self management and autonomy. They should empower those they help in the management of their own coping, recovery and “wellness”. In this regard psychological services must support growth and be careful not to pathologise inappropriately. Rather, education emphasises the normalcy in disaster situations of responses which in other situations appear abnormal.

Interventions should maintain the dignity of affected people and should be delivered in a tactful, flexible, paradigm free, fair,
equitable and ethical manner (see also Appendix C).

As with the process of assessment, the timing of services is critical,
as the community dynamics immediately following a disaster provide a limited opportunity for service providers to connect with a disaster affected community.

Because recovery from disaster is a complex, dynamic and protracted process, interventions must be provided in a coordinated, timely and culturally-appropriate manner, tailored to the prevalent needs of affected people in different phases,
throughout the entire recovery process.

Services should be available not only in all disaster phases but at all social system levels, take into account biological, psychological and social aspects and all human levels from instinctive to spiritual.

Psychological services should integrate within affected populations and share information, understanding of issues, policies, goals,

decisions, arrangements and management.

Personnel should be selected for their specialist expertise, group skills and ability to integrate with disaster management and other service providers.

Psychological services must be properly integrated into disaster management arrangements. Psychological service managers should be involved consistently at all service hierarchy levels from initial briefings through all disaster phases.


Interventions should be coordinated to avoid multiple approaches,
and follow ups should be carried out preferably by the same people.

Interventions should be documented professionally and confidentiality of the documentation maintained. Plans for availability of documentation should take into account translocations of affected people. Such translocations should also be documented.

Pathways of referrals should be established and maintained through all disaster phases.

Providers should receive concurrent help and supervision.

Knowledge and experience gained should be utilized in future preemption. Preparedness should be increased through exercises,
training and research.

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