1st Edition

Psychosocial Support for Humanitarian Aid Workers A Roadmap of Trauma and Critical Incident Care

By Fiona Dunkley Copyright 2018
    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    Humanitarian aid workers are trying to make a difference in an increasingly dangerous world. Psychosocial Support for Humanitarian Aid Workers: A Roadmap of Trauma and Critical Incident Care highlights the risks of such work, educates professionals responsible for their duty of care, and brings together current thinking to promote collaborative working to support the carers of our world.

    From the humanitarian aid worker trying to organise support amongst chaos, to the professional offering a safe place for recovery, all of these individuals are at risk of becoming traumatised. Therefore, it is vital that we recognise the psychological risks on these individuals, and that they recognise how they can support themselves, so they can continue to function in the work that they do. This book can be used as a trauma awareness guide for all staff whose work exposes them –  directly or indirectly –  to trauma, and therefore becomes a risk to their physical or mental wellbeing.

    Psychosocial Support for Humanitarian Aid Workers will appeal to all those working in the field of humanitarian aid, counsellors and psychotherapists, emergency first responders, as well as those who are looking to support themselves after surviving trauma.


    1. Introduction: the roadmap of psychological risk

        • Aid work: the curse of the strong
        • Organisational duty of care
        • Ripple effect of trauma
        • The changing face of aid work
        • The scars of wisdom

    2. The physiology of trauma:the mechanics of trauma

      • What is trauma?
      • The survival response
      • How is the brain impacted by trauma?
      • Common trauma symptoms

    3. Treating trauma: support vehicles of recovery

      • What are trauma specialist treatments?
      • EMDR: how does it work?
      • Case study 1 (EMDR)
      • TF-CBT: how does it work?
      • Case study 2 (TF-CBT)

    4. Resilience toolkit: the first aid kit

      • Relaxation
      • Education
      • Social
      • Physical
      • Exercise
      • Creativity
      • Thinking

    5. Psychosocial management of critical incidents: the emergency route

      • Peter Moore: case study
      • Megan Nobert: case study
      • Organisational trauma
      • What psychological support should be available to staff after a critical incident?
      • Appropriate timings of offering psychological support
      • Summary of early interventions

    6. The complete package of care: the road most travelled

      • Pre-deployment psychosocial support
      • Psychosocial support during deployment
      • Post-deployment psychosocial support
      • The homecoming
      • Conclusion

    7. Cultural relevance of psychosocial support: local roadmaps

      • Culturally sensitive support
      • Cultural models of psychosocial support
      • Developing localised services or importing international professionals
      • Supporting national staff
      • Conclusion

    8. Conclusion: the complete trauma grab bag

      • Survival
      • Unresolved trauma leads to war
      • Post-traumatic growth
      • Final thoughts

    Sources of help




    Fiona Dunkley is a senior accredited MBACP Psychotherapist, Trauma Specialist, Supervisor and Trainer. She is a member of EMDR, UKRCP and ESTSS. Fiona founded FD Consultants, offering psychosocial support and trauma specialist services for humanitarian aid organisations. She has presented on ‘Good Morning Britain’ as a trauma expert, has published several articles and has been asked to speak at various international conferences.


    "Raising standards in psychosocial support for those working on humanitarian response to crises and disaster is only just being recognised by those organisations working in the field. This book is an essential and timely contribution to understanding the need for such support as well as providing a practical guide to establishing systems and approaches. I would urge all those responsible for humanitarian aid workers and indeed, for those responsible for staff or volunteers working in development organisations, to read this book as a matter of urgency and to take on board its recommendations"

    Philip Goodwin, Chief Executive, VSO International.