Psychological First Aid (PFA)

Psychological First Aid (PFA) is an approach to providing immediate, short-term support to individuals who have experienced a traumatic event, natural disaster, or other crisis. It is designed to reduce the initial distress and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning.

Psychological First Aid (PFA)


Psychological First Aid (PFA) has emerged as a crucial component of mental health support, particularly in the aftermath of traumatic events. Historically, the concept of providing emotional support to individuals in distress can be traced back to ancient civilizations. The term "psychological first aid" gained prominence during and after World War II. Mental health professionals, including psychiatrists and psychologists, were tasked with addressing the emotional toll on soldiers returning from combat. The focus was on immediate, practical support to help individuals cope with the shock and stress of war experiences. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods, highlighted the need for a rapid and accessible approach to address the psychological well-being of survivors. Early interventions were often community-based, involving volunteers and mental health professionals providing comfort, reassurance, and practical assistance. The early 21st century witnessed the formalization of psychological first aid principles and guidelines by organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Red Cross. These guidelines emphasize a compassionate, person-centered approach to providing immediate psychological support to individuals affected by crisis or disaster.

Focus theme / core-concept

PFA aims to promote safety and comfort, assess needs, provide basic needs and assistance, listen to concerns, offer practical help, and connect individuals with social support and additional services if necessary. In other words, The core concept of Psychological First Aid (PFA) involves promoting safety and comfort, providing practical assistance, and assessing needs. It emphasizes active listening and emotional support, aiming to stabilize individuals by helping them manage their emotions and connect with social support. PFA also involves providing relevant information to empower individuals and help them regain a sense of control. By focusing on these key elements, PFA aims to reduce immediate distress and foster resilience in the aftermath of crises or traumatic events.


Immediate Emotional Support: PFA offers immediate emotional support, which can help reduce distress and promote a sense of safety and comfort for individuals affected by a crisis.

Prevention of Long-Term Mental Health Issues: By addressing the immediate psychological needs of individuals, PFA can help prevent the development of long-term mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression.

Enhanced Coping Abilities: PFA can help individuals regain a sense of control and build effective coping strategies, thereby enhancing their ability to manage and recover from the effects of a traumatic event.

Community Resilience: By providing support and fostering a sense of community, PFA can contribute to the overall resilience and well-being of the affected community, helping it to recover more effectively from the crisis.

Improved Access to Further Resources: PFA can facilitate the identification and access to additional resources, such as mental health services and community support groups, for individuals in need of ongoing assistance and treatment.


The goals of Psychological First Aid (PFA) include:

Promoting Safety and Comfort: Creating a safe and secure environment for individuals affected by crisis or trauma.

Reducing Distress: Alleviating emotional and psychological distress by providing immediate support and reassurance.

Restoring Coping Abilities: Helping individuals regain a sense of control and capability to manage their emotions and reactions.

Facilitating Short-Term Functioning: Assisting individuals in meeting their basic needs and restoring their ability to function in the
immediate aftermath of a crisis.

Preventing Further Harm: Mitigating the risk of long-term psychological consequences by offering timely intervention and support.

Encouraging Access to Ongoing Support: Connecting individuals with appropriate resources and support systems for continued assistance beyond the immediate aftermath of the crisis.


Active Listening: Engaging in attentive and nonjudgmental listening allows individuals to express their feelings and concerns without interruption.

Validation: Acknowledging and validating the emotions and experiences of those affected to help them feel understood and supported.

Reassurance: Providing reassurance and comfort to help individuals feel safe and secure during a crisis.

Psychoeducation: Providing relevant information about common stress reactions and coping strategies to help individuals understand their responses and develop effective coping mechanisms.

Crisis Intervention: Implementing strategies to help stabilize individuals in crisis by promoting a sense of safety, encouraging relaxation techniques, and facilitating emotional grounding.

Connection to Social Support: Facilitating connections with social support networks, including friends, family, or community resources, to foster a sense of belonging and reduce isolation.