Reducing Primary and Secondary Traumatic Stress Symptoms Among Educators by Training Them to Deliver a Resiliency Program (ERASE-Stress) Following the Christchurch Earthquake in New Zealand

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Abstract

The current investigation evaluated the impact of a universal school-based resiliency intervention (ERASE-Stress) on educators who were working with elementary schoolchildren exposed to the Canterbury earthquake in New Zealand. In the context of major disasters, educators may suffer from “dual trauma”; they can experience symptoms of both primary trauma (as a result of the disaster itself) and secondary trauma (as a result of working with traumatized students). Sixty-three educators were randomly assigned to either the ERASE-Stress intervention or an alternative Managing Emergencies and Traumatic Incidents (METI) program which served as a control group. Efficacy of the program was evaluated at the end of the training as well as at 8 months follow-up. Compared with educators in the control group, those in the ERASE-Stress intervention significantly reduced their posttraumatic distress and secondary traumatization symptoms, improved their perceived level of professional self-efficacy as a helper of earthquake survivors, developed an optimistic outlook regarding their personal future and enhanced their sense of hope, and honed some of their positive coping strategies and reduced the utilization of some maladaptive coping methods. These beneficial consequences of the ERASE-Stress training make it a potentially useful tool for educators working with traumatized students in the context of major disasters.

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