Psychological First Aid

Psychological First Aid (PFA) is a modular approach to help children, adolescents, adults, and families in the immediate aftermath of disaster and terrorism. Individuals affected by a disaster or traumatic incident, whether survivors, witnesses, or responders to such events, may struggle with or face new challenges following the event. PFA was developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the National Center for PTSD, with contributions from individuals involved in disaster research and response.

PFA is designed to reduce the initial distress caused by traumatic events and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning and coping. PFA does not assume that all survivors will develop severe mental health problems or long-term difficulties in recovery. Instead, it is based on an understanding that disaster survivors and others affected by such events will experience a broad range of early reactions (e.g., physical, psychological, behavioral, spiritual). Some of these reactions will cause enough distress to interfere with adaptive coping, and recovery may be helped by support from compassionate and caring disaster responders.

Last reviewed: 2023

Intended Outcomes:

Reduce the initial distress caused by traumatic events and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning and coping.

Continuum of Care:
Universal Prevention

Topic Areas:
Behavioral Health/Mental Health, Physical Health, Trauma

Adult (25+), Childhood (4-12), Early Childhood (0-3), Teen/Adolescent (13-18), Young Adult (19-24)

Geographic Locations:
Rural, Urban

Delivery Settings:
Community-Based, Congregate Care Facility

Cultural Considerations:
A balanced amount of the research involved diverse populations

This program is for youth, adults, and families who have been affected by a natural disaster or other traumatic emergency.

This program is facilitated by volunteer mental health professionals or disaster relief workers.


Is Training Required?
Yes, see developer info

Who can provide the required training?
Please visit the following site for more training information:

Program Costs (materials, training, etc.):
Information not available

Program/Practice Website:

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research:

Hermosilla, S., Forthal. S., Sadowska, K., Magill, E. B., Watson, P., & Pike, K. M. (2023). We need to build the evidence: a systematic review of psychological first aid on mental health and well-being. Journal of Traumatic Stress 36(1), 5-16.

Additional Sources:

Promising rating

WV Rating:
»WV Ratings Info

Rationale for Rating:

One randomized controlled trial has been conducted on Psychological First Aid. The results are promising. However, to move to the next level of support more research should be completed on the program.

Contraindications or Concerns:
None identified

Other Registries/Ratings

The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare:
Not Yet Rated

Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development:
Not On Registry

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness:

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Model Programs Guide:
Not On Registry

Washington State Institute for Public Policy:
Not On Registry