Psychological intervention in disaster situations

Lorena Saénz Segreda
University of Costa Rica, Psychological Research Institute, Apartado Postal 147-2050, San Pedro, San José, Costa Rica.
Tel. : +506-207-4695, Fax: +506-207-4017

The presentation will outline the psycho-social attempts made in communities in Costa Rica affected by disasters. This type of work was carried out by the School of Psychology of the University of Costa Rica since the occurrence of hurricane Joan, and up until cyclone Cesar in 1996.

In response to these events, selected professors and voluntary students assumed the task of minimising the psycho-social effects at the level of the community, as well as in chosen groups and for individuals. This treatment was not only for the traumatic experiences people had to go through at the time of the disaster, but also for the heavy material losses incurred and the casualties suffered. Treatment is also for the effects caused by the disruption to the daily routine, which generates chaos both collectively and for the individual.

The poster explains in detail the nature of the psycho-social work carried out in the affected areas and evaluates ways of handling such tasks, which aim to intervene in, and recapacitate the mental health of individuals and groups when facing disaster situations. Finally, a proposal that opens a new outlook on the response to emergencies through the management of risk will be presented.