Why is it important to have a Crisis Psychology Program for after a Crisis or Disaster, with an “all hazards” approach? There are many reasons. Put simply, a crisis psychology program can provide the framework for the effective coordination of activities among management and the crisis teams who each play a role in the organization’s response.

People, your greatest asset, can be protected by sound Crisis Counseling and Intervention plans that address the psychological post-disaster effects that can impact the mental health of both management and broader employees.  The whole organization may be affected by a poor crisis response, and some employees may need immediate care to manage traumatic stress following a crisis situation or critical incident.

Often trauma survivors experience flight of thought, which interferes with decision-making. They search in their mind for a solution to help a trauma situation, but find none. They frantically continue to search, and this frantic flight of thought leaves them feeling disorganized. While their flight of thought is temporary, it usually does not stop when they are in a place of safety. Their decision making during this time is often chaotic. They focus on one repetitious thought and are unable to attend to the matter at hand.”– Quote from Kathy McMahon Psy.D

A coordinated approach allows for the creation of early warning plans, and the development and execution of clear instructions and communications to all concerned during a crisis. When reviewing your organization’s programs, it is crucial to ensure that a structured process in place that allows for the continued assessment of emerging and current risks, which include operational, financial, and reputational risks, along with the psychological issues which responders and employees may be facing during and in the aftermath of a crisis situation.

”I recommend setting up Peer Counseling Training at your Organization, prior to an event. I was certified as a Peer Counselor years ago. I helped so many people by knowing how to “listen.” I set up a Peer Counselor Program in the US Army when I was on Active Duty. We had such great results! I was also a Peer Counselor for community victims of abuse and other crisis situations. It certainly helped me help others on 911 and when working in Katrina.” – Quote from Dr. Michael C. Redmond, PhD

When properly incorporated into a program, the potential consequences of a crisis can be synergistically combined with the Emergency Plan and the Business Continuity Plan. Efforts to coordinate with the owners of the Emergency Plan and Business Continuity Plan are facilitated through this incorporation.

Ensure to include the following, at a minimum:

  • Care for the caregiver (self-care)
  • Catastrophic events overview
  • Crisis response and teams identification
  • Crucial communication for greatest assistance to survivors
  • Family and Children’s issues and developmental factors
  • Grief and general principles in crisis response
  • Managing the media and press
  • Needs in times of crisis or tragedy
  • Prevention, intervention & response
  • Responding to natural disasters or community-wide events
  • Team leadership
  • Trauma intervention and working in the aftermath of trauma
  • Violence prevention

If your organization has a program set up for counseling, also consider the number of people who may need support or assistance following a crisis or disaster. Ensure that your organization can scale up and support employees who might be affected, especially if that number increases or is higher than expected.

Dr. Michael C. Redmond, PhD MBCP, FBCI, CEM, PMP, MBA, ISO 23001 Certified is a Board Certified Psychoneurologist (Crisis Psychology).