Intervention Philosophy

Violent or critical (traumatogenic) events are not inevitably traumatic, not even if persons are wounded physically. Many factors contribute to the outcome, whether persons who have lived through a traumatogenic (potentially traumatic) event, survive it staying healthy in their souls, beome diseased or even grow and mature from it. Social support on the one hand, and enhancement of personal resources are the two possibilities of early interventions; this can usually be done by psychological lay persons, peers.

In crisis intervention, as well as in prevention and treatment, the main approach is to focus on the resources, coping skills and culturally bound ways of dealing with trauma. Respectful and senstive utilization of these resources is central.

When human beings have been exposed to a traumatogenic event, i.e. to an event outside of which they felt helpless or feared death, it is normal, that they experience disagreable or even horrible feelings and thoughts and that they behave as if they are outside of themselves. Tentative attempts at explaining the event often do not succeed, and produce the feeling that one is helplessly exposed to the event and it‘s memories. In this phase it is important to communicate with others, who are able to listen quietly, to care and to show a special interest and consolation mainly through their presence .

Stress management, social support and CARE, defusings, demobilisations and psychological debriefings are interventions, which can be used in a preventive manner, early after trauma exposure. They are meant to enhance integration of the occurrence, to prevent the chronification of traumatic psychological reactions and to accelerate the return to normal life.

Interventions, such as CARE and social support („psycho-social attention“) are offered as fast as possible, directly after the event, and they are given ideally in a one to one setting. Defusing is only done for intervention groups at the end of their technical debreifngs, i.e. of their review of the intervention. Psychological debriefngs only can be offered after at least 72 hours, for individuals as well as for groups. All early interventions have to be applied in a frame which is marked by similarities –culturally, professionally , origin wise. Intervention through peers is highly recommended- because of a similar language (de-psychologized) – not only the mother tongue, but also the tongue of a social class or a profession. Cooperation between peers and Mental Health Professionals (MHP) is central to the success of these early interventions. Either group has ist own functions: At the frontline peers (voluntary, however trained psycholgical lay persons) are at ease and very helpful. They can be called upon through the central intervention office and they can give care and support in the immediate aftermath. The MHPs task is to be present behind the scenes, to give support to the peers, to help clarify uncertainties, for eventual triage activities and for supervision and/or psychological debiefings of the peers.

The philosophy is, that, after a critical event human beings are suffering very much, are psychologically shaken, however not crazy or diseased, in spite of how crazy they might appear. In their „crazyness“ they are normal and suffer from normal and natural reactions. One can understand them, if one assumes that, during the event the body has given it’s best and mobilised all it’s biological resources for survival: The stress response. It is a moral obligation of a community or a society to give support to it’s members and to help them to cope with what happened. In this way disease can be avoided and, in the best of cases and with time, post-traumatic growth can be enhanced.