Skills for Psychological Recovery
Right after experiencing a trauma, it is common to react with a mix of anxiety, sadness, and anger. For most people, getting back to routines, connecting with loved ones, and engaging in meaningful and enjoyable activities reduces these reactions. A subgroup of trauma survivors, ranging from 10-35% depending on trauma type, will develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR: Brymer et al., 2019) is a brief program (4-6 meetings) designed to teach children and adults coping skills. The skills have been proven successful in managing anxiety, sadness, and anger following trauma and throughout life. SPR can be taught by any professional who works with families, including clergy, educators, nurses, and mental health staff. The skills can be used in a variety of settings, including schools, places of worship, and libraries, with individuals or in small groups.
What Happens in Skills for Psychological Recovery
SPR begins with an assessment of the impact of the trauma on the survivor’s daily life as well as their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. The SPR leader then uses what is learned in the assessment to prioritize needs and select the skills that best target those needs. The skills include: effective problem solving, scheduling positive activities, relaxation skills, strategies to build healthy thinking, and mobilizing social support. In the meetings that follow, the trauma survivor is taught the relevant skills, and given handouts and ideas for practicing them in their daily lives.
Feedback from School Staff Trained by CHP
Outcome / Research Results
- Brief cognitive-behavioral interventions delivered after a traumatic event but before trauma survivors develop PTSD have been shown to be effective in preventing the development of PTSD (Foa et al., 1995; Marans et al., 2009; Silovsky et al., 2004).
- In a study of adults experiencing distress related to COVID-19 or the sudden death of a loved one, there were significant reductions in posttraumatic stress after completing Skills for Psychological Recovery (Sheerin et al., 2021; Williams et al., 2022).
- Practitioners delivering SPR to individuals and families affected by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita reported uniform high satisfaction with the training, supervision, and consultation on SPR (Hansel et al., 2009).
- Practitioners trained in SPR after natural disasters found that SPR training programs increased their confidence in their ability to implement SPR. The practitioners continued to use SPR with community members six months post-training (Forbes et al., 2010; Wade et al., 2014).