Top Banner

Click here to load reader

Psycho Social Support- An Overivew Article-3

Sep 05, 2014

ReportDownload

Documents

This paper discusses how a community based psychosocial support program increases participation of disaster-affected people in their reconstruction as a result of an improvement in their psychosocial well-being. The article is divided into three parts: (1) the early beginning of community initiative and civic engagement approach called VESPRA, (2) the systematization of the model into a community based psychosocial support approach and (3) a practical application of the model in a real disaster. The paper concludes that the development of a theoretical and practical model, the systematization of that model into a community based psychosocial support approach and an the application of such an approach enhanced the psychosocial well being of disaster affected people.

Psychosocial Support: An overview

1

Psychosocial support: An overview of a program to enhance resilience and improve well-being in disaster-affected peopleJoseph O. Prewitt Diaz1

1

. Dr. Prewitt Diaz is a humanitarian Psychologist with over 30 years of experience in community based psychosocial programs in disasters. He served as the Senior Advisor for Psychosocial Support for the American Red Cross during the 2004 South Asia Tsunami, and developed a program that served over 750,00 beneficiaries. Currently Director of the Disaster Law Center and Visiting Professor at the School of Law, University of Puerto Rico. He is the recipient of the 2008 APA International Humanitarian Award.

2

Psychosocial support: An overview of a program to enhance resilience and improve well-being in disaster-affected people

AbstractThis paper discusses how a community based psychosocial support program increases participation of disaster-affected people in their reconstruction as a result of an improvement in their psychosocial well-being. The article is divided into three parts: (1) the early beginning of community initiative and civic engagement approach called VESPRA, (2) the systematization of the model into a community based psychosocial support approach and (3) a practical application of the model in a real disaster. The paper concludes that the development of a theoretical and practical model called VESPRA, the systematization of that model into a community based psychosocial support approach and an the application of such an approach enhanced the psychosocial well being of disaster affected people.

Key Words: psychosocial support, resilience, well-being, disaster affected people

3

Psychosocial support: An overview of a program to enhance resilience and improve wellbeing in disaster affected people IntroductionPsychosocial support has been identified as a positive tool to alleviate suffering of disaster-affected people, enhance resiliency and foster psychosocial well-being (Hobfoll et al. 2007; Prewitt Diaz 2010). This paper provides a historical overview of community based psychosocial support (CBPSP), proposes a model of the sector as a platform to foster community resilience and enhance well-being, and concludes with an operational community based psychosocial support program.

I. Emergence of community initiatives and civic engagementIn early 1965, psychosocial support was chosen as a viable strategy for community development in Puerto Rico, through a group that called itself VESPRA (Voluntarios en Servicio a Puerto Rico en Accin) (Pond, 1968). VESPRA was a

community program that used principles of psychology, participatory actions, and voluntarism to re-establish sense of place and improves well-being among target communities. The methodology evolved rapidly to a systematized approach better known today as community based psychosocial support (American Red Cross, 2002). This model has been successfully used as a disaster response tool (See SPHERE, 2011, pp. 14-77). Three principal theories were used in the formulation of the VESPRA psychosocial support program: (1) Client centered and non-directive theory used to work closely with the community (Rogers, 1951: Rogers, 1961); (2) the introduction of

4 therapeutic communities (Jones 1962), and (3) the use of group therapy as a model that focused on the promotion of well being in community groups (Slavson, 1962). This non-directive method permitted assessment to be carried out where the neighbors expressed themselves and were inspired to believe that there future was in their hands, their actions led to improved lifestyle and the community was improved (Bolton & Tang, 2002) . The volunteers established relationship with community members in a supportive environment where the volunteer and community member saw themselves as equals. The volunteer was not perceived as an outsider, and the community members were perceived as inherently good, and therefore should be encouraged and supported to achieve their full potentials. By assuming responsibility for their own actions, community members became resilient, moved forward, grew, and achieve their full potential, thus achieving a sense of well being. Through common activities, community members tended to be concerned for one-another, behave in an honest, dependable and constructive manner. The first strategy used from the 60s was small group training sessions. Basic to VESPRA training and field operations is the small group of peers. VESPRA basic tool for training, and community groups was the T-group pioneered by Kurt Lewin (18901941) and researchers in the National Training Laboratories in Washington. The group methodology was used in an eclectic fashion by many different trainers and community settings. The results of the theories developed by Rogers were gauged by improved selfesteem, reported increase in trust in ones inner feelings, and the experiences as valuable sources of information for decision making; increased ability to learn from experiences and not make mistakes, and more positive and comfortable relationships

5 with others. In a recent meeting former volunteers sharing their VESPRA experience of their 70s and 80s reported that the training had increased their capacity to experience and express feelings at the moment they occurred, and an openness to new experiences and new ways of thinking about life. They felt that they were more resilient and attributed their current success to their volunteer experience. A second strategy adopted from the 60s was the consideration of the community as a therapeutic environment. Jones (1962) introduced into the field of social psychiatry the use of groups in communities, hospitals and prisons. The Therapeutic Community offers a safe environment with a clear structure of boundaries and expectations where members have the opportunity to come to terms with their past through re-enactment within a treatment setting involving other members and staff. Therapeutic communities offered the individual experiences to awaken creative and social abilities. Members tend to learn much through the routine interactions of daily life and the experience of being therapeutic for each other. Through the strategy of therapeutic community, the aim is to encourage members towards a better understanding of their previous behavior and to enable them to improve their inter-personal functioning, first within the therapeutic community and ultimately in the wider community. Encouraging and reinforcing the notion of personal responsibility and sharing, members and staff meet together on a regular basis to discuss the management and activities of the community. Understanding mechanisms of action in group psychotherapy was beneficial for the growth of the group. During training sessions, the facilitator, recognize that the success of individual group members is intimately linked to the overall health and well being of the group-as-a-whole. Indeed, a sizable portion of the clinical and empirical literature delineates therapeutic factors and mechanisms that have been linked with

6 healthy well-functioning therapy groups. Mechanisms of action are interventions that are considered to be causal agents that mediate client improvement. These mechanisms take many forms, including experiential, behavioral and cognitive interventions. VESPRA started out with the premise that human beings are responsible for themselves. Human beings have the legal and social responsibility to make decisions affecting their behavior and impacting their future. The goal was to confront the poor with this reality, and it gave the poor the tools of group motivation to begin the process of changing their traditional responses toward their internal and external environment. The program addressed the following social and psychological needs: 1. In the individual: Thee technique encouraged disaster

affected members to change their own attitudes of helplessness and dependence. The disaster-affected people are encouraged to test out new modes of behavior that lead to produce greater personal effectiveness. Once the community members have begun to feel a sense of freedom, and capacity springing from their own behavior, the disaster affected people are encouraged to join a group and conduct assessments in their communities to search out and assist other community members who felt the same way. 2. In the family: The disaster affected families are encouraged

to engage in community activities that will increase the security in which children and adolescents can develop and family solidarity can become more of a reality, not only an ideal, day care center for children of working mothers, recreational programs of all sorts, neighborhood health promotion organizations, evening vocational training classes for adults and adolescents are some of the most common projects that were

7 implemented during the first ten years. Especially important is developing protected and secure environments where the weaker members of the community could develop themselves become resilient. Once family members identify an interest of fostering community growth, then all the disaster-affected families can come together and progress toward collective well-being. 3. In the community: Develop, with community organizations

that will learn to function effectively in solving identified problems of the neighborhood/place which can be tackled by the people themselves using the community human capital, without outside assistance. At the same time, work to establish a place/neighborhood that can represent the disaster affected people in confronting outside stakeholders. 4. In the larger community. Identify the social capital

available outside the place that might be brought to bear on the social, environmental and psychologica