The first chaotic weeks have passed. Those affected begin to comprehend the incident. Many of those who were not physically injured have returned to everyday life; others continue to experience reactions and physical arousal related to the event. Support them to engage in activities that promote a sense of meaning and achievement.

Early intervention includes:

  • Information about common reactions and their development (psychoeducation)
  • Stress management strategies
  • Emotional regulation
  • Promotion of hope

What is most important will vary from one individual or family to the next. Their individual needs and coping strategies should be in focus. Provide simple and practical advice to help those affected calm themselves.

The day-to-day routines with family and friends provide space for rest and grief. By only following up family members individually and not the family as a whole, the overall picture may be lost.

Show an interest in how those affected experience their current situation. Things to consider during discussion:

  • Closed-ended questions may be perceived as controlling; they don’t invite an open dialogue. They can be used when performing a targeted professional assessment of the situation.
  • Open-ended questions make space for reflection and analysis:
    o How is it to be you right now?
    o How is your relationship?
    o What is easy and helpful, what is difficult?
    o How do you manage the difficult situations?

Promote hope by conveying a realistic image of the recovery process.
Providing knowledge about how people process trauma will help those affected to understand the situation. Without this knowledge it is easy to get discouraged; it can be difficult to imagine that things will ever get better. This is a difficult time for many as they get impatient and want to move on.

Support personnel can assist with practical issues, providing relief in everyday life. This may include liaising with schools, day-care, employers, social services and other government agencies.