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close this bookMental Health Services in Disasters: Instructor's Guide (PAHO; 2000; 174 pages) [ES]
View the documentGlossary*
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentTraining manual and materials produced in the United States
View the documentVideos
View the documentKey Concepts of Disaster Mental Health*
open this folder and view contentsChapter 1: Historical Overview - Mental Health Role Sociocultural Characteristics
open this folder and view contentsChapter 2: A Review of Basic and Applied Knowledge for the Development of Post-disaster Intervention Guidelines
close this folderChapter 3: Developmental Stages of Survivor Behavior
View the documentTeaching Resources
View the documentGroup Work/Exercises
open this folder and view contentsChapter 4: Applied and Operational Guidelines for Assisting Post-disaster Survivors
open this folder and view contentsChapter 5: Populations with Special Needs
View the documentBack Cover

Chapter 3: Developmental Stages of Survivor Behavior


Module 3:

Sets the stage for recognizing the crisis response and adaptive behavior of survivors across post-disaster time phases.


To systematically categorize behavior processes through time phases.


Presents a composite grid to show the developmental stages of survivor behavior.


After participating in Module 3 the students will:


• Be aware of behavior, thinking, and feelings of survivors with the passage of time post-disaster.

• Be able to conceptualize the sequences of changes as the survivor adapts to different stages of the disaster.


This module presents a description of survivors' responses as they process their emotions through the different post-disaster time phases. The developmental sequence is similar to that which occurs in clinical resolution of crisis, trauma, and bereavement. Although the reaction sequences are not of fixed duration and flexible approaches are necessary, there appears to be a guiding developmental sequence to crisis resolution. The confounding influences that alter the sequence of responses are labeled the “secondary disaster,” which consists of all the bureaucratic and reconstructive procedures that survivors must contend with after the disaster, coupled with their personal problems: loss of employment, marital problems, physical illness, etc.

Each phase of the process will necessitate different teaching content to enable mental health workers to help survivors deal with whatever stage of emotional response they are in when they are first seen by a worker. Each post-disaster phase will require different approaches by the worker.

Each phase - threat, impact, recoil, early aftermath, and late aftermath - is described from four perspectives: biological, psychological, interpersonal, and sociocultural. Examples of behavioral defenses are also given.

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