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Psychological First Aid After Traumatic Events
For companies: If interested in psychological first aid after traumatic events, please, contact us by phone or e-mail.
For individuals: Please, contact first your Company Physician, or the Accident Prevention & Insurance Association ("Berufsgenossenschaft"), respectively.
Traumatic events, such as a severe accident, a violent assault or robbery, a fire, or a natural disaster pose a considerable challenge for the human psyche. Almost inevitably, such events cause acute stress symptoms, i.e. insomnia, attention deficits, hypervigilance, obtrusive memories and flashbacks as well as nightmares, a heightened state of arousal and irritability. With the passing of time since the event, these symptoms tend to subside for many individuals. A certain percentage of the persons involved, however, will suffer from ongoing and sometimes debilitating symptoms: they develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In addition to the bodily symptoms of heightened arousal and hypervigilance they also experience intense emotional distress upon confrontation with aspects of the traumatic experience, such as certain images or words that represent the traumatic event, anniversaries of the event or even emotional states that resemble their emotional state at the time of the event. Avoidance of trauma-related stimuli is widespread in this group of individuals, and they may also develop emotional numbness, depression, or abuse of psychotropic substances to cope with the emotional pain.
Psychological First Aid
In order to lessen the impact of acute stress and to promote healthy coping processes, a timely psychological intervention is often useful. Thus, individuals at a heightened risk for the development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder can be identified early and, if necessary, provided with the necessary treatment options. We have developed a stepwise procedure intended to help companies and their employees who have been subjected to a traumatic event. It consists of a group debriefing session 2 to 4 days following the event, with individual counselling offered for individuals who suffer from particularly high levels of stress, and a follow-up several weeks after the event. For managers and executives, individual coaching is available to inform their dealing with the general public and the media as well as to aid them giving appropriate support for employees and their families.