Psychological First Aid is an evidence-informed modular approach to help children, adolescents, adults and families in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event. Psychological First Aid is designed to reduce the initial distress caused by traumatic events and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning and coping.

Principles and techniques of Psychological First Aid meet four basic standards. They are:

1. Consistent with research evidence on risk and resilience following trauma
2. Applicable and practical in field settings
3. Appropriate for developmental levels across the lifespan
4. Culturally informed and delivered in a flexible manner

Psychological First Aid does not assume that all survivors will develop severe mental health problems or long-term difficulties in recovery. Instead, it is based on an understanding that disaster survivors and others affected by such events will experience a broad range of early reactions (for example, physical, psychological, behavioural, spiritual). Some of these reactions will cause enough distress to interfere with adaptive coping, and recovery may be helped by support from compassionate and caring disaster responders.

Strengths of Psychological First Aid

Psychological First Aid includes basic information-gathering techniques to help providers make rapid assessments of survivors’ immediate concerns and needs, and to implement supportive activities in a flexible manner.

Psychological First Aid relies on field-tested, evidence-informed strategies that can be provided in a variety of disaster settings.

Psychological First Aid emphasizes developmentally and culturally appropriate interventions for survivors of various ages and backgrounds.

Psychological First Aid includes handouts that provide important information for youth, adults and families for their use over the course of recovery.

To obtain a copy of the Psychological First Aid Guide go to: