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Disaster Mental Health: Theory and Practice 1st Edition

James Halpern, Mary Tramontin

  • Published
  • 352 Pages


Informative and practical, DISASTER MENTAL HEALTH: THEORY AND PRACTICE covers the psychology of disasters, and discusses how to assist those impacted by such dramatic, life-changing events. Its primary aim is to support and empower those mental health practitioners and students who will be working in the trenches of disaster's aftermath. An ancillary goal is to arm disaster responders who are not mental health specialists with sufficient knowledge to consider the role of mental health and how it might be helpful. The book is intended to be a tool in disaster preparedness and planning. A broader goal is to further legitimize the still-developing field of disaster mental health by offering a synthesis of trends, discoveries and related concepts. This book presents a theoretical integration and context for what disaster mental health is and what it is not. It also presents the range of mental health interventions in the wake of disaster. These interventions are discussed in a practical manner so that readers may obtain and develop additional skills.

James Halpern, SUNY-New Paltz

Drs. James Halpern and Mary Tramontin each possess a range of experiences in many professional worlds: academia, private practice, public service, crisis counseling, forensic psychology, research, writing, consulting, collaborating with the media, and teaching disaster mental health. Together, Mary and James were part of the Disaster Mental Health Services Function of the American Red Cross Chapter in New York City. As such they were among the very first mental health professionals notified when a disaster requiring mental health intervention occurred. They have both participated in multiple disasters of different scope, intensity, magnitude and meaning. They have been in the unique position to bear witness to the effects of cataclysmic moments on those involved, and have been present to help, and shape, the healing process. Mary has been a Disaster Mental Health practitioner since its inception in the early nineties. She organized the first state wide training in Disaster Mental Health in Pennsylvania and currently continues to serve on the Leadership Committee of the Disaster Mental Health Services function in New York City. James is currently the Chair of the Disaster Mental Health Services Function of Ulster County, New York. He has responded to large scale national disasters in different parts of the country. Both Mary and James were among the first mental health professionals to offer mental health support on September 11th, 2001. James founded and serves as the Director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health at the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Mary Tramontin,

  • In one consolidated volume, the authors gather together current knowledge about disaster mental health that is spread out in disparate areas such as trauma studies and emergency management.
  • The book describes the more extreme reactions that people may experience after a disaster: acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other co-morbid conditions. Additionally, it covers the origins and diagnosis of complicated and traumatic grief.
  • Vulnerable populations in disasters, including children, the elderly, the disabled and the seriously mentally ill, are described in detail. Expectations regarding these populations as well as intervention recommendations are offered. The concept of vulnerability in general is examined.
  • The authors review the pros and cons of psychological debriefing as well as the culture, attributes and specifics of emergency first responders, the group for which this modality was initially intended.
  • The authors review the elements of psychological first aid and other early interventions and discuss their effectiveness.
  • Major long term treatment approaches for disaster survivors are reviewed.
  • This text provides practical, hands-on information that informs disaster mental practitioners about what they might expect when responding to a disaster.
  • The authors discuss the range of possible disasters and their attributes. Subtleties involved in differentiating between natural and human-caused disasters, and, how these and other distinctions affect people's reactions, are provided.
  • The impact of disasters caused by terrorism/weapons of mass destruction is discussed.
  • The authors discuss common reactions as well as the stages of psychological responses to disasters. The psychophysiology of trauma exposure is reviewed.
1. Introduction.
2. The Characteristics of Disaster.
3. A History of Disaster Mental Health.
4. Reactions and Risk Factors.
5. Extreme Reactions.
6. Vulnerable Populations.
7. The Challenges of Counseling in Chaos.
8. Psychological First Aid.
9. Early Interventions Beyond First Aid.
10. Debriefing and the Impact of Disaster Trauma on First Responders.
11. Long-Term Treatment: Continuity Of Care.
12. New Directions.