CRIME
10/23/2013 04:32 pm ET | Updated Dec 23, 2013

Post-Traumatic Mess? Why Crisis Counselors Still Don't Know If They're Helping Or Hurting

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Last month, floodwaters dark with silt and mud devastated a 1,500-square-mile area surrounding Denver. Nine people lost their lives. Some survivors lost their homes, and others couldn't return because of the damage.

Since those catastrophic days, Janine D'Anniballe has tried to help as many as she can. But unlike other responders, she's not delivering blankets or food. Instead, D'Anniballe is offering psychological first aid (PFA): developed several years ago, the technique is the primary mode for immediately buffering the traumatic effects of surviving a disaster. It's designed to stabilize victims who often feel numb, overwhelmed, and angry, and who may eventually spiral into depression or hopelessness.

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