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Skills for Psychological Recovery: Field Operations Guide

 

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This section is for Researchers, Providers, & Helpers

This section is for Researchers, Providers, and Helpers

Skills for Psychological Recovery: Field Operations Guide

Skills for Psychological Recovery: Field Operations Guide

For Disaster Behavioral Health Responders

Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR), is an intervention designed to follow Psychological First Aid (PFA) in the weeks and months following disasters and mass violence events. SPR aims to help survivors gain skills to manage distress and cope with post-disaster stress and adversity. The SPR Field Operations Guide was developed jointly by the National Center for PTSD and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, with contributions from individuals involved in disaster research and response.

SPR is not formal mental health treatment, but utilizes skills-building components from mental health treatment that have been found helpful in a variety of post-trauma situations, including problem-solving, positive activities scheduling, managing reactions, helpful thinking, and building healthy social connections. Research suggests that a skills-building approach is more effective than supportive counseling. SPR is appropriate for developmental levels across the lifespan, and is culturally informed. SPR aims to facilitate recovery, support functioning, and prevent behaviors that make things more difficult.

Skills for Psychological Recovery Manual Contents

Chapter/ Topic Title of Chapters and Topics
Complete Guide Skills for Psychological Recovery Manual with Appendices (PDF 2MB)
Chapter 1 Introduction and Overview
Chapter 2 Delivery Considerations
Chapter 3 Core Skills
- Topic 1 Gathering Information and Prioritizing Assistance
- Topic 2 Building Problem-Solving Skills
- Topic 3 Promoting Positive Activities
- Topic 4 Managing Reactions
- Topic 5 Promoting Helpful Thinking
- Topic 6 Rebuilding Healthy Social Connections
Chapter 4 Multiple Contacts
Appendices for Skills for Psychological Recovery Manual
Appendix A Gathering Information and Prioritizing Assistance
SPR Screening Form
SPR Skill Flowchart
What is "Skills for Psychological Recovery?"
SPR Overview and Review of Skills
Appendix B Building Problem-Solving Skills
Problem-Solving Worksheet
For Children: Problem Busters Worksheet
Appendix C Promoting Positive Activities
Choosing Positive Activities
Positive Activity Worksheet
For Children: Choosing Things to Do
For Children: Positive Activity Worksheet
For Parents: Helping Your Child Plan Activities
Appendix D Managing Reactions
- For Adults & Adolescents Managing Reactions Worksheet
Breathing Exercise
Posttraumatic Stress Reactions
Anger and Irritability
Sleep Difficulties
Reactions to Chronic Stress
Depressed Mood
Post-Disaster Fears
Grief Reactions
Supporting Someone After a Disaster
Drug and Alcohol Problems
- For Children For Children: Getting Control of Your Fears
- For Parents Helping Children Control Their Fears
Help for Children's Sleep Problems
Children's Intrusive (Unwanted) Thoughts and Traumatic Reminders
Children's Anxiety (Avoiding, Clinging, Fears)
Children's Tantrums and Acting Out Behavior
Children and Grief: Information for Families
Appendix E Promoting Helpful Thinking
Helpful Thinking Handout
For Children: Helpful Thinking Handout
Helpful Thinking Worksheet
For Children: Helpful Thinking / Good Coach, Bad Coach Worksheet
Payoff Matrix Worksheet
Appendix F Building Healthy Social Connections
Social Connections List
Social Map Worksheet
For Children: Social Map Worksheet
Types of Social Support Worksheet
Getting Social Support in Six Steps
Giving Social Support in Six Steps
Appendix G Multiple Contacts
Preventing Setbacks Worksheet

NOTE: The latest version of Adobe Acrobat ReaderLink will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site. is needed to download these files. Not having the latest version (8) of this reader may cause error messages that the PDF file is "damaged".

SPR Training

It is strongly recommended that you participate in SPR training prior to using the SPR manual. While Psychological First Aid training can be achieved via the PFA Online courseLink will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site., SPR requires a more intensive level of training and practice. Ideally, it is best if those implementing SPR are licensed providers, or are being supervised by licensed providers. In our experience, the trainees who feel most comfortable implementing SPR have prior experience either providing cognitive behavioral treatments or responding to disaster.

In our SPR trainings, we make an effort to:

  • Assess and train different trainee skill levels
  • Incorporate local cultural factors
  • Highlight the difference between traditional mental health practice and SPR
  • Highlight the difference between SPR and supportive counseling and PFA
  • Discuss the importance of a strong partnership with the survivor when providing SPR
  • Promote group interactivity and practice
  • Illustrate SPR actions with examples and tips
  • Highlight the importance of self-care when working with disaster survivors

We recommend that you obtain training either from one of the authors of SPR or from a designated trainer. You may inquire about in-person trainings by emailing:

A number of training videos are available on the NCTSN Learning CenterLink will take you outside the VA website. VA is not responsible for the content of the linked site. web page.

SPR was created with the Terrorism Disaster Branch of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network as well as other involved in disaster response. Production of this material was supported by SAMHSA.

The principal authors of SPR (in alphabetical order) include: Steve Berkowitz, M.D., Richard Bryant, Ph.D., Melissa Brymer, Ph.D., Psy.D., Jessica Hamblen, Ph.D., Anne Jacobs, Ph.D., Christopher Layne, Ph.D., Robert Macy, Ph.D., Howard Osofsky, M.D., Ph.D., Robert Pynoos, M.D., MPH, Josef Ruzek, Ph.D., Alan Steinberg, Ph.D., Eric Vernberg, Ph.D., and Patricia Watson, Ph.D.

For citation: Berkowitz, S., Bryant, R., Brymer, M., Hamblen, J., Jacobs, A., Layne, C., Macy, R., Osofsky, H., Pynoos, R., Ruzek, J., Steinberg, A., Vernberg, E., Watson, P., National Center for PTSD and National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Skills for Psychological Recovery: Field Operations Guide, 2010. Available on: www.nctsn.org and www.ptsd.va.gov.

Copyright © 2010 Berkowitz, S., Bryant, R., Brymer, M., Hamblen, J., Jacobs, A., Layne, C., Macy, R., Osofsky, H., Pynoos, R., Ruzek, J., Steinberg, A., Vernberg, E., Watson, P. (National Center for PTSD and National Child Traumatic Stress Network). All rights reserved. You are welcome to copy or redistribute this material in print or electronically provided the text is not modified, the authors and the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD) and National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) are cited in any use, and no fee is charged for copies of this publication. Unauthorized commercial publication or exploitation of this material is specifically prohibited. Anyone wishing to use any of this material for commercial use must request and receive prior written permission from the NCTSN. Permission for such use is granted on a case-by-case basis at the sole discretion of NCTSN. If you would like permission to adapt or license these materials, please contact Melissa Brymer, Ph.D. at mbrymer@mednet.ucla.edu.

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