Psychological Interventions for Victims of
Disaster and Trauma
Karen W. Saakvitne, PhD
The world is changing. Our understanding of the world is changing. And, in response, the fields of psychology and mental health are changing. This volume reflects that good news. It is my hope that reading the papers in this book will promote further change.
Some of the key philosophical shifts in our field highlighted in these papers include (1) the adaptation of a trauma framework in place of a traditional pathology model for responding to victims of disaster and traumatic events; (2) the emergence of an integrated understanding of the impact of traumatic events on the physiology, psychology, and spirituality (meaning) of the individual as well as on the community, culture, and society in which s/he lives; (3) a recognition of the importance of cultural and political beliefs in predicting both the effects of and resources necessary to address trauma; (4) the expanding role of the mental health professional outside of his or her office and traditional psychotherapist identity; (5) acknowledgment of and attention to the profound impact of the work on the self of the healer; and (6) a reworking of the ethics of psychological intervention in the context of the previous five considerations.
Work with victims of disaster and trauma moves us away from the traditional “us–them” model of mental health taught in medicine and clinical psychology. Trauma work requires us to eschew the compartmentalized approach human health that underlies Western medicine because it is clear that the