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After reviewing the journal articles and completing the Week 8 chapter readings, please respond to the following:Provide an overview of the challenges to crisis teams, the errors that occurred, and how you would manage the crisis if you were in a position of responsibility and authority. Support your position based on information gleaned from the journal articles, the course texts, and other academic resources. If you were in a disaster setting working with people in crisis, how would you assure self-care? As the supervisor of a crisis team in a disaster area, how would you ensure a psychologically safe environment for your staff?Discuss the symptoms you might observe in children after exposure to a community disaster. Describe your assessment and treatment approachMust be 400 words




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Training and Education in Professional Psychology
2008, Vol. 2, No. 2, 75– 82
Copyright 2008 by the American Psychological Association
1931-3918/08/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/1931-3918.2.2.75
Postdisaster Supervisor Strategies for Promoting Supervisee
Self-Care: Lessons Learned From Hurricane Katrina
Jamie D. Aten, Michael B. Madson, Alon Rice, and Amy K. Chamberlain
University of Southern Mississippi
The purpose of this article is to provide supervisors with postdisaster strategies for promoting supervisee
self-care. These recommendations are based on relevant disaster mental health and supervision research
along with the authors’ experiences of supervising and teaching in a university setting following
Hurricane Katrina in South Mississippi. Supervisory examples from the authors’ hurricane experiences
are also provided to highlight each recommendation. A supervisee self-care tool is offered to aid
supervisors in their efforts to help supervisees develop positive coping responses in the event of a
Keywords: supervision, self-care, disaster, psychological trainers, supervisee
partment of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, along with several
postdoctoral fellows in New Orleans were displaced (Tracey,
2005). Clearly, Hurricane Katrina significantly impacted a number
of psychology training programs and required those involved in
training to modify training in order to address a variety of issues
that arose after the hurricane. One important issue that arose for
many training programs was the need to facilitate trainee self-care
in the aftermath of the disaster. In this article, we draw from
relevant research and our experiences of supervising and teaching
students in professional psychology at the University of Southern
Mississippi (USM) following Hurricane Katrina to elucidate strategies that supervisors can use to promote supervisee self-care
following a disaster.
Exposure to a natural, technical, or terrorist disaster can lead to
significant psychological problems and mental health issues. Most
notably, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been cited as
one of the most commonly occurring disorders following a catastrophic event (Norris, Perilla, Ibanez, & Murphy, 2001). Those
who have experienced a disaster also report higher occurrences of
depression (Bowler, Mergler, Huel, & Cone, 1994) along with
elevated levels of suicide ideation and suicides (Krug et al., 1998).
Peaks in anxiety symptoms have been reported in the aftermath of
several disasters and concerns about normalcy in everyday living
are frequently voiced (American Red Cross, 1995; David, Mellman, Mendoza, Kulick-Bell, Ironson, & Schneiderman, 1996) in
conjunction with symptoms of acute stress disorder (Sattler, Preston, Kaiser, Olivera, Valdez, & Schlueter, 2002). Relational problems such as increases in divorce and domestic violence have also
been documented following disasters (Norris & Uhl, 1993; Rubonis & Bickman, 1991). Furthermore, increases in alcohol consumption and drug abuse are common among disaster survivors
(Shimizu, Aso, Noda, Ryukei, Kochi, & Yamamoto, 2000) and in
evacuation sites (Aso, 1995; Noda, 1996). Vicarious forms of
trauma and burnout have also been widely documented in relief
and first response workers (e.g., Barnard & Rothgeb, 2000; Collins
& Long, 2003). Supervisees in professional psychology exposed to
disastrous events are not immune from such problems, which is
On August 29, 2006, Hurricane Katrina, which has been deemed
one of the worst natural disasters to hit the United States, devastated South Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida causing
overwhelming physical, emotional, and economic losses. Hurricane Katrina made land fall as a category three hurricane, leaving
behind a path of unparalleled destruction that stemmed well beyond the Gulf-Coast region northward. The most severely affected
areas are still rebuilding and enduring hardships well after the one
year anniversary of the storm. It has been estimated that the total
losses (e.g., insurance claims, lost wages, etc.) will exceed $100
billion (Hurricane Insurance Information Center, 2006). The hurricane also had a significant impact on educational institutions and
programs throughout the region, including a number of professional psychology training programs. Hundreds of psychology
students were displaced from affected universities like the University of New Orleans. Nearly 20 predoctoral interns at sites such as
the Tulane University School of Medicine and New Orleans De-
JAMIE D. ATEN received a PhD in counseling psychology from Indiana
State University and is an assistant professor in the Psychology Department
at the University of Southern Mississippi. His research interests include
spirituality, rural psychology, and supervision.
MICHAEL B. MADSON earned his PhD in counseling psychology from
Marquette University. He is an assistant professor in the Psychology
Department at the University of Southern Mississippi. His research interests include professional training and supervision, motivational interviewing, psychological consultation, and alcohol and drug abuse.
ALON RICE received a MA in counseling psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi where he is currently a counseling psychology
doctoral student. His research interests include multiculturalism, supervision, and spirituality.
AMY K. CHAMBERLAIN earned her MA in counseling psychology from
the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and he is currently a counseling
psychology doctoral student at the University of Southern Mississippi. Her
research interests include body image, multiculturalism, and supervision.
D. Aten, University of Southern Mississippi, Department of Psychology, 118 College Drive #5025, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001. E-mail:
why self-care is an important topic for discussion among supervisors in professional psychology.
Self-care can play a significant role in coping with and preventing problems resulting from disaster experiences (Jenkins & Baird,
2002). If neglected, distress stemming from disaster experiences
may not only have adverse affects on the personal well-being of
supervisees, but potentially on the well-being of their clients.
Research has shown integrative approaches to self-care to be
effective for helping mental health professionals manage stress and
cope with disasters. More specifically, Coster and Schwebel
(1997) found that engaging in social, emotional, physical, and
spiritual self-care activities promote resiliency among mental
health professional faced with challenging circumstances. A number of self-care strategies utilized by mental health professionals
that may assuage distress following a disaster have been documented in the literature, including (a) social support, (b) personal
therapy, (c) exercising, (d) stretching, (e) eating healthy, (f) selfreflection, (g) spiritual activities, and (h) relaxation exercises
(Coster & Schwebel, 1997; Jennings & Skovholt, 1999).
Purpose of This Article
In reviewing the literature on self-care and professional psychology training, we found articles that defined self-care and made
suggestions for maintaining self-care (e.g., Barnett & Sarnel, 2006;
Williams-Nickelson, 2006). However, very little attention appears
to have been given to how psychologists-in-training learn self-care
strategies in academic or supervisory settings. Furthermore, to the
best of our knowledge, no article has addressed how supervisors
can promote supervisee self-care strategies following a catastrophic event. Thus, the purpose of this article is to provide
supervisors with strategies for promoting supervisee self-care in
postdisaster circumstances. This article grew out of our experiences as faculty supervisors and doctoral student supervisors who
were enrolled in an advanced supervision course at the time of
Hurricane Katrina. The strategies highlighted are applicable to
postdisaster circumstances including natural, technical, and terrorist disasters.
Recommendations for Promoting Postdisaster Self-Care
The following series of recommendations and supervision examples are offered to assist supervisors in facilitating supervisee
self-care strategies in the event of a disaster. The recommendations
are based on relevant disaster mental health and supervision literature along with our personal experiences of supervising and
teaching after Hurricane Katrina. Supervisory examples follow
each recommendation and are based on the lead authors’ personal
experiences or observations (which will be noted by the abbreviations JDA and MBM). Though these recommendations are offered to assist supervisors who are responding to the self-care
needs of supervisees in postdisaster circumstances, we encourage
supervisors to consider implementing these self-care strategies in a
preventative manner.
Supervisors Establish Emergency Protocol
Recommendation. Supervisors establish an emergency protocol for supervisees to follow in the event of a disaster. Falender
and Shafranske (2004) suggest that the ethical and competent
supervisor make provisions to manage any foreseeable risk to the
supervisee or client. Likewise, Jacobs, Quevillion, and Stricherz
(1990) recommend that disaster mental health plans clearly outline
the roles and expectations of responders in the event of a catastrophe. They also recommend that multiple site coordinators be
identified and that disaster drills be implemented on a regular
basis. Emergency protocols should be developed by supervisors
for a wide variety of disaster circumstances. Protocols are also
needed to determine the health or functioning of supervisees
before allowing them to resume clinical experiences (either formal
or informal methods). These protocols should also outline the
processes a supervisee needs to take and who to contact if confronted with such a situation. Programs may consider developing
a method for accounting for the whereabouts of their supervisees
and supervisors following a disaster. For instance, programs may
want to identify another program in a different part of the country
(in the event of a regional disaster) to partner with in the development of a sign-in procedure. Supervisees and supervisors could
be given the contact information (including mailing address, fax,
e-mail, and phone) for a resource person from another department
who would assist in tracking and facilitating communication. In
situations where a university is affected more directly, colleagues
from nonaffected universities may also be enlisted to provide
additional outside help, such as providing cosupervision or
Supervisory example. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, during
a group supervision session I led (MBM), meteorologists had
begun forecasting severe weather for the areas surrounding our
university. Several of my supervisees were scheduled with clients
that evening. Shortly after we began staffing cases it became
apparent that some of the supervisees were concerned about the
weather and what to do with their clients. For example, one
supervisee reported that the weather had caused feelings from her
Hurricane Katrina experience to resurface. At that point, we postponed case staffing and discussed a plan of action that the supervisees would follow in the event that severe weather approached
that evening while they were in session. We reviewed the clinic
and university procedures and then developed an action and
decision-making plan that included when to terminate the session
and who to contact if needed. After having this discussion, the
supervisees felt better prepared and less anxious regarding this
situation and were able to better focus on their client needs.
Supervisors Model Self-Care
Recommendation. Supervisors promote positive supervisee
self-care strategies by practicing and modeling self-care themselves. According to parallel process theory, supervisees observe
and internalize representations of their supervisors and tend to consciously or unconsciously follow the example provided (Morrissey &
Tribe, 2001; Pearson, 2000). When supervisors practice self-care, they
model ways of monitoring and reducing personal stress that can be
observed and adapted by supervisees. On the other hand, if a supervisor is struggling to cope with a disaster and begins engaging in
negative coping strategies, supervisees may end up following the
example provided or adopt similar behaviors. Supervisors should
therefore be mindful that supervisees might be observing their actions,
which can have a direct impact on how supervisees respond to a
disaster. Consequently, Tusscher (2006) argues that supervisors
should engage in rigorous self-reflection, so they may be cognizant of
how they are affecting their supervisees. Based on their supervision
work with supervisees providing services to victims of war, Lansen
and Haans (2004) have identified self-disclosure as another form of
modeling that supervisors may choose to implement as a way of
helping supervisees identify and adopt positive professional behaviors. Thus, supervisors need to make an intentional effort to model and
teach positive coping skills.
Supervisory example. In the first group supervision session I
(JDA) lead after Hurricane Katrina, I inquired about how my
supervisees were adjusting. At first the room was silent, which was
only interrupted by half-hearted remarks such as “it’s going okay”
or “I’m doing fine.” I could tell that my supervisees were uncertain
to whether it was safe to disclose how the hurricane had impacted
them and their self-care. In response, I used self-disclosure, telling
them that even though the damage to my home was mild in
comparison to that of my neighbors, I had experienced a noticeable
difference in my stress level. I went on to discuss how I was
making time with my family a priority and sought to try to engage
in a relaxing activity daily, which was helping me maintain perspective and adjust. My supervisees then followed, each sharing
about their experiences and what they were doing to cope so that
they could remain effective with clients. Furthermore, the majority
of my supervisees then displayed similar actions to the ones I had
modeled with their clients, each stressing the importance of
Supervisors Acknowledge Disaster Experiences While
Maintaining Boundaries
Recommendation. Supervisors acknowledge and validate supervisees’ disaster experiences while maintaining professional
boundaries. Brown and O’Brien (1998) found that shelter workers
engaged in crisis work who perceived their supervisors as a source
of social support experienced less emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. They contend that supervisors can normalize supervisees’ experiences in stressful situations and environments by
the following: (a) helping supervisees identify various sources of
social support, (b) focusing on positive vocational goals, (c) providing positive reinterpretations of supervisees’ experiences, and
(d) acknowledging supervisees vocational competencies and
achievements. Researchers have also shown that faculty and supervisor support has been attributed to graduate student development and success (e.g., Johnson & Huwe, 2003). It stands to reason
following a disaster that supervisees will require higher levels of
support and empathy from supervisors. However, supervisors
should be cautious to ensure that professional boundaries are
maintained, and avoid extending their role beyond that of supervisor. Heru, Strong, and Price (2004) postulate that “The [supervision] boundaries prevent the relationship from moving from a
professional to a personal level” (p. 79). That is, the supervisory
relationship should remain professional and collegial in nature
with supervisor roles (e.g., mentor and consultant) and supervisee
roles (e.g., trainee) clearly delineated (Bernard & Goodyear,
2004). Furthermore, supervisors should be aware of the power
differential inherent in the supervisory relationship and avoid
situations that could lead to invasive or exploitive behaviors, such
as using the supervisory relationship to meet their needs (e.g.,
using the supervisee as a form of social support) or conducting
therapy with a supervisee (Heru, 2006; Jacobs, 1991).
Supervisory example. Consider a supervisor and supervisee
who spent most of their time talking about the damage Hurricane
Katrina had done to their homes, making it difficult to focus on
supervisory issues. Discussing the effects of the disaster was
warranted in this situation; however, the relationship had begun to
resemble more of a counseling relationship than supervisory relationship. In cases similar to the aforementioned, boundary problems
may be prevented by encouraging both supervisors and supervisees to
secure personal social support systems outside of the supervisory
relationship (e.g., colleagues or peers), relating supervisees’ experiences back to their professional roles, and referring supervisors or
supervisees for therapy if necessary (e.g., symptoms of PTSD are
Supervisors Provide Education and Training
Recommendation. Supervisors provide education or training
on effects and responses common following a disaster. For instance, disasters can limit self-care options for supervisees, as
previous outlets or activities may no longer be feasible. Researchers have also shown when disaster survivors are faced with limited
self-care options they are prone to engaging in negative coping
patterns such as over sleeping, overeating unhealthy foods, and
avoidant behaviors (Hardin, Carbaugh, Weinrich, & Pesert, 1992;
Maddi, 2005). The devastation of a disaster can extended beyond
property damage to disruption in everyday activities, relationships,
professional work, communication systems, and academic pursuits
for supervisees. After Hurricane Katrina, we observed a number of the
aforementioned responses as supervisees self-care options were limited because of stressors such as financial strains (e.g., costs of
evacuating or securing storage facilities) and scattered social support
systems. Self-care became more limited at a time when self-care was
essential for their continued well-being and professional growth.
Yet, as noted by Cerney (1995), “Much secondary trauma can
be avoided or its effects ameliorated if therapists seek regular
supervision or consultation” (p. 139). Therefore, supervisors need
to explore ways of attending to supervisees’ understanding of
disaster related issues and responses. This can be done formally or
informally by incorporating stress-management resources or information into supervision. Salston and Figley (2003) have highlighted examples of stress-management resources supervisors may
encourage supervisees to practice outside of supervision, including
journaling, progressive relaxation, and guided imagery. Group or
individual training sessions may also be planned for supervisees to
highlight what to expect following a disaster (e.g., signs of stress
and typical coping responses) and common problems associated
with providing psychological services to clients affected by a
disaster (e.g., vicarious trauma). Supervisors should also consider
developing an informational self-care packet for supervisees that
includes additional psychoeducational information on disasters
and self-care, along with helpful phone numbers and websites.
Examples of materials that might be included in an informational
self-care packet include contact information for national and local
disaster organizations (e.g., The Red Cross) and a list of local
psychological service providers (e.g., university counseling center
or professionals offering student rates).
Supervisory example. Following Hurricane Katrina, both facul …
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