Relief Team Guidance: Ventilation or Retraumatization??


I did this short post on our counseling center webpage. We are doing disaster response crisis counseling related to Typhoon recovery in the Philippines. We generally use the NOVA method (National Organization of Victim Assistance). We are pretty comfortable with it. Some prefer to use CISD, but we believe that CISD is more appropriate for hidden victims (aka recovery volunteers). However, there is a disagreement between PFA (Psychological First Aid) and NOVA. PFA is good, but NOVA is pretty easily teachable. Right now we have decided to stay with NOVA (mostly) but make some adjustments to reduce the risk of retraumatization.

Bukal Life Care

With the Disaster Response here in the Philippines, we have had to revisit an issue that has been with us since 2009. The issue is whether having a victim in a disaster relive the events is a freeing, ventilating event, or a retraumatization of the event. We use the NOVA method. One of the steps is Ventilation/Validation. In that, the counselor invites the individual or group to go through to describe their experience. There are other methods (CISM/CISD, PFA, OSFA) and this issue is an area where they diverge commonly.

Obviously, we are on a mission of healing so we don’t wish to further harm. There are people out there that are more experienced in this delicate issue. But talking to some and reviewing some literature leads us to recommend a middle road. Methods typically require some level of review of the events they have been through. This seems to…

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