Psychosocial support:An overview of a program to enhance resilience and improve well-being in disaster affected people
Psychosocial support has been identified as a positive tool to alleviate sufferingof disaster-affected people, enhance resiliency and foster psychosocial well-being(Hobfoll et al. 2007; Prewitt Diaz 2010). This paper provides a historical overview of community based psychosocial support (CBPSP), proposes a model of the sector as a platform to foster community resilience and enhance well-being, and concludes with anoperational community based psychosocial support program.
I. Emergence of community initiatives and civic engagement
In early 1965, psychosocial support was chosen as a viable strategy for community development in Puerto Rico, through a group that called itself VESPRA
(Voluntarios en Servicio a Puerto Rico en Acción)
(Pond, 1968). VESPRA was acommunity program that used principles of psychology, participatory actions, andvoluntarism to re-establish sense of place and improves well-being among targetcommunities. The methodology evolved rapidly to a systematized approach better known today as community based psychosocial support (American Red Cross, 2002).This model has been successfully used as a disaster response tool (See SPHERE, 2011, pp. 14-77).Three principal theories were used in the formulation of the VESPRA psychosocial support program: (1) Client centered and non-directive theory used towork closely with the community (Rogers, 1951: Rogers, 1961); (2) the introduction of 3