Dr. Moss Talks First-Aid Psychology

He may only be a few weeks new to our campus, but Dr. Robert Moss is already touching lives miles away.

In the last few weeks he has made several trips to tornado ravaged Joplin, MO to participate in what he calls "First-Aid Psychology."

"You want to make sure they are getting the level of care they need immediately," said Moss.

Among things hit in Joplin was the Ozarks Center which lost 22 of its 28 mental health facilities. 

"The infrastructure is just devastated," said Moss.

But even with care crippled, he notes there is still only so much a psychologist should be doing in the first days and weeks after such an event.

"You are not really trying to do any psychological kind of treatment."  He explains that in most cases many won't need follow up services at a later date.

So, what does this idea of first-aid psychology really mean?  Well, it's not always clearly defined, but Moss says it starts simple.

"You explain to them what's normal."  He says this gives people an understanding of the stress, anger, and the grieving that goes along with surviving such a horrible disaster.

"They just need somebody there that's going to walk them through."  Moss describes many of the people he's worked with as dazed and still in shock by what happened.

He says one of the worst things you can do in the early stages is talk about the event itself.

"The reality is that if you talk to people just one time about the traumatic event you could actually do more harm than good."

He says normalizing their emotions and what they are feeling now is much more effective in the short- and long-term healing process.

And for those who may be traveling to assist in the near future, Moss says this as a word of advice.

"Be realistic as to exactly what your role is.  Recognize that when you get there that role could vary.  It's a constantly evolving situation."