where client problems are ironed out. This may include support for service providers who may be stressed and burnt-out, or making them aware of personal blocks. Mentoring includes discussing personal problems with a designated experienced person who maintains confidentiality, counselling may extend the above into dealing with more entrenched secondary stress and triggers to earlier vulnerabilities. Psychosocial debriefing mentioned earlier involves assimilating disaster experiences and responses into professional and personal histories. Debriefing Debriefing may be routine for some service provider teams. When applied, debriefing for service personnel may be seen as the equivalent of outreach to affected populations. It is intended that in the process the group achieves homogenous understanding of the disaster and people’s personal roles in it and that personal biological, psychological and social stress responses and maladaptive judgements and meanings can be resolved and incorporated into adaptive alternatives. Like in family counselling it is hoped that the team emerges with deeper and wiser self-respect, cohesion and knowledge of itself and its limitations. The event is absorbed into an esteemed part of the history of the team. Tailoring of psychological services to service personnel debriefs may involve the following: • Especially difficult disaster stressors (critical incident stresses), should be recognized as requiring debriefs. They may include multiple deaths,
mutilations, death of family and friends, severe role conflicts, priority conflicts and failed equipment.
• All service personnel should be included and be able to communicate safely across hierarchical lines. • The client is both the group as a whole and all its individual members. This is reminiscent of families. As with them too, at times certain members highlight group dysfunction, at other times group dynamics reflects individuals’ characteristics, especially of leaders.
56 • Service personnel are especially concerned about whether they saved as many lives and prevented as much damage as possible and whether they did a good professional job. In this context group tensions may reflect role blame or guilt. This may need to be ironed out for group and personal morale to be reestablished. It is therefore important to go over the disaster in detail and make sense of what was done and what could not be done. In the process especially maladaptive rescue (e.g., feeling burdened and resentful) and goal achievement (e.g., feeling frustrated and powerless) survival strategy stress responses (appendix B) are identified. They and associated guilts, shames, angers, sense of injustice and negative meanings, are identified, made sense of, and alleviated by placing them in their realistic contexts. • Positive meanings and morale are facilitated by coming to terms with all things considered, personnel did as well as possible under the circumstances. Personal and group pride in the context of deeply purposeful professional endeavours emerges. Grief over losses is mitigated by the lessons learned which will make future disaster interventions still more efficient. •
Additional debrief sessions may be arranged as necessary and individuals who are still affected or otherwise suffering may receive individual attention.