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About SPR

Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR) is an evidence-informed modular intervention that aims to help survivors gain skills to manage distress and cope with post-disaster stress and adversity. 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. SPR 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.

SPR is designed to help children, adolescents, adults, and families gain skills to reduce ongoing distress and effectively cope in the weeks and months following disaster and trauma. It is based on an understanding that disaster survivors will experience a broad range of reactions (physical, psychological, behavioral, spiritual) over differing periods of time. SPR is not formal mental health treatment, but rather a secondary prevention model that utilizes skills-building components that have been found helpful in a variety of post-trauma situations. Although some individuals will need referral for treatment after an event, research suggests that a skills-building approach is more effective than supportive counseling for most.

SPR can be delivered in a variety of settings (e.g., schools, clinics, hospitals, assisted living facilities, houses of worship, community centers, libraries, and homes). Each SPR skill can be covered in one contact or meeting with a survivor and then reinforced through the use of handouts and practice. The six SPR skills include:

  • Gathering Information and Prioritizing Assistance helps survivors to identify their primary concerns and to pick the SPR strategy to focus on.
  • Building Problem-Solving Skills teaches survivors the tools to break problems down into more manageable chunks, identify a range of ways to respond, and create an action plan to move forward.
  • Promoting Positive Activities guides survivors to increase meaningful and positive activities in their schedule, with the goal of building resilience and bringing more fulfillment and enjoyment into their life.
  • Managing Reactions helps survivors to better manage distressing physical and emotional reactions by using such tools as breathing retraining, writing exercises, and identifying and planning for triggers and reminders.
  • Promoting Helpful Thinking assists survivors learn how their thoughts influence their emotions, become more aware of what they are saying to themselves, and replace unhelpful with more helpful thoughts.
  • Rebuilding Healthy Social Connections encourages survivors to access and enhance social and community supports while keeping in mind the current post-disaster recovery circumstances.

To access the SPR Field Operations Guide, adaptations and handouts related to SPR, visit NCTSN Resources