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A Brief Overview

by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.

Originator, Acute Traumatic Stress Management

Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness



During a crisis, the primary objective is the stabilization of illness and injury and, ultimately, the preservation of life. While physical and safety needs are routinely addressed, many caregivers feel ill-prepared to address emergent psychological needs. Acute Traumatic Stress Management empowers healthcare providers and first responders to raise their level of care. 


Following is a quick overview of the 10 Stages of Acute Traumatic Stress Management:


1.  Assess for Danger/Safety for Self and Others

     • Are there factors that can compromise your safety or the safety of others?


2.  Consider the Mechanism of Injury

     • How did the event physically and perceptually impact the individual?


3.  Evaluate the Level of Responsiveness

     • Is the individual alert and responsive? Under the influence of a substance?


4.  Address Medical Needs

     • For those who are specifically trained to manage acute medical conditions


5.  Observe & Identify

     • Who has been exposed to the event and who is evidencing signs of traumatic stress?


6.  Connect with the Individual

     • Introduce yourself, state your title and/or position. Once he is medically evaluated, move the                      individual away from the stressor. Begin to develop rapport.


7.  Ground the Individual

     • Discuss the facts, assure safety if he is, have him “Tell his story.” Discuss behavioral and physiological        responses.


8.  Provide Support

     • Be empathic. Communicate a desire to understand the feelings that lie behind his words.


9.  Normalize the Response

     • Normalize, validate and educate.... “Normal person trying to cope with an abnormal event.”


10.  Prepare for the Future

     • Review the event, bring the person to the present, describe events in the future and provide                         referrals.









Dr. Mark Lerner

Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness

© 2017 by Dr. Mark Lerner


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