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Psychological First Aid

Perhaps the best way to conceptualize psychological first aid is as the mental health analogue to physical first aid. Psychological first aid (PFA) may be simply defined as a supportive and compassionate presence designed to mitigate acute distress and facilitate access to continued care, if indicated. PFA does not entail diagnosis, nor does it entail treatment, per se.

History

The first noteworthy mention of PFA was in the context of a curriculum developed in 1944 for the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II. The curriculum was developed in acknowledgment that psychological distress on shipboard was a significant risk factor for poor performance and the development of psychological “casualties” at sea, especially during wartime. Later, in 1954, the American Psychiatric Association published a monograph wherein PFA was ...

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