Canterbury Earthquakes
A collection of resources for helping professionals

From our contacts with practitioners in Canterbury, it appears that Christchurch residents are reacting to the earthquake as we would have expected; that is, they are, generally, taking it in their stride. Some will benefit from temporary support; but most will have no need for therapy -- indeed, as others have cautioned, inappropriate 'therapising' of people who simply need short-term support can do more harm than good.

Having said that, there are some people with a prior vulnerability, for whom the earthquake has been a triggering event for an increase in their anxiety. If you are working with such clients, we have come across some resources that you might find helpful.

Adults & general

The New Zealand Psychological Society has put together a detailed self-help article which is available from their website at:

New Zealand Doctor Online has posted a short article which, among other advice, contains some useful warnings about inappropriate debriefing and premature diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder:

Psychological First Aid: Field Operations Guide (US manual for professional helpers):

Alternatives to Debriefing and Modifications to Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (Journal abstract):

Fear Itself (APA report on an innovative brief CBT intervention for earthquake survivors):

A brief behavioural treatment of chronic post-traumatic stress disorder in earthquake survivors (Journal abstract):

Acute Treatment of Disaster Survivors (comprehensive MedScape article outlining risk factors for survivors, dangers of inappropriate debriefing, and strategies that have empirical support, including CBT. Contains a substantial list of references for additional study):

Children & Adolescents

Promoting Child and Family Resilience to Disasters - journal article (registration, which is free, is required to access the full article):

Children's reactions to critical and traumatic events: Information for parents and teachers is available from the Center for Crisis Psychology at:

Coping with disaster also from the Crisis Psychology Center, is a self-help leaflet for children:

Supporting children after the earthquake is available from Relationship Services:

Outcome of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Adolescents After Natural Disaster (full Journal article relating to the 2004 Bam, Iran earthquake):

Counseling Children After Natural Disasters: Guidance for Family Therapists (full Journal article describing a range of techniques that can be used with children):

See also . . .

Self-help resources you can give to your clients - click here