Briefings and Workshops
The more psychologically prepared people are for stress and traumatic experiences, the less severe any symptoms of stress or trauma are likely to be. (Basoglue et al., 1997; Alexander & Wells. 1991)
Research also indicates that people are at more risk of developing problems such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder when mild symptoms of stress are not accepted as normal. Therefore, the provision of stress briefings and workshops will aim to ensure that individuals accept that stress-related symptoms are normal when doing disaster work (not a reflection that they ‘are not coping’) but an indication that they need to take care of themselves, rest a bit more, talk with a friend and employ methods that help them to relax.
Stress and Trauma Briefings
A personal stress & trauma briefing recognises individual needs and therefore will provide an opportunity for staff preparing for deployment to:
a) think realistically about what they might find stressful or traumatic during the mission and how they might react,
b) identify their personal coping strategies and
c) be aware of other support mechanisms available to them.
A briefing may take up to 90 minutes but Managers may require extra support in exploring the issues that may face individual staff members who have suffered stress and trauma. A 1:1 briefing will help them become aware of their own personal limits and how they can respond to their staff needs for support.
Wellbeing and Personal Resilience Workshops
Participants are helped to prepare for overseas humanitarian work by thinking about how aspects of the environment and work can affect wellbeing in an interactive group setting where they can share and learn from each others experiences and insights.
The different types of stress associated with humanitarian work (critical incident stress, vicarious trauma, and chronic stress) are explored as well as identifying the signs of stress and burnout in themselves and others, which includes emotional and behavioural responses. Participants are encouraged to identify and share self care techniques and stress management strategies that can help alleviate stress and develop personal resilience. Other support mechanisms will also be identified and the session is concluded with a guided relaxation exercise.