Whenever there is a disaster of any magnitude, psychologists are often mobilized to help. For an outside observer, it would be difficult to differentiate the emergency psychologist from the other volunteers. Psychologists provide a variety of important support services in the aftermath of a disaster or emergency, such as directing people to food and shelter, but they also offer crucial emotional support .

Because psychologists are uniquely trained to help people deal with stress and strong emotions, they can help disaster and emergency survivors, volunteers, and first responders understand their emotions, such as such as anger, anguish and pain.

In this post, we will see in more detail the functions of an emergency psychologist and what you have to study to work in the sector, such as a degree in psychology or a master’s degree in general health psychology .

Psychology of emergencies and disasters

An emergency psychologist intervenes in stressful situations caused by collective traumatic events, such as natural-technological disasters, environmental crises, epidemics, terrorist attacks or wars . In short, they give psychological support in emergency situations . Their first task is to set up a “psychological first aid” station on site to provide help during acute phases of stress and bereavement, reducing the danger of chronic disorders emerging at a later date.

Psychologists help those in disastrous circumstances develop their resilience skills to move from feeling hopeless to having a realistic longer-term perspective. This process can include taking small steps toward concrete goals and connecting with others as they learn to deal with the logistical and emotional challenges of a disaster, whether it be natural, an accident, or a terrorist attack.

Here are some examples of psychological support in emergency situations:

  • Listen to people’s concerns on a variety of topics, including their homes, missing family members, and pets.
  • Help people manage their temporary living conditions and acclimatize to shelters located possibly far from home and in different settings.
  • Provide information about available resources for current needs (clothing, medical care, etc.); help facilitate those connections.
  • Help people strengthen their resilience skills by building connections with family and friends .
  • Understand parents’ concerns about how their children will recover from the disaster and manage the potential challenges ahead .
  • Educate people that it is normal for disaster survivors to have a variety of common reactions . Some of these include fears, flashbacks, nightmares, irritable emotions, and confusion.
  • Reassure people that it is possible to recover from a disaster and build a life.

Where do emergency and disaster psychologists work?

An emergency psychologist may work in a variety of organizations such as within public health, with the police and other emergency services, or the armed forces. They also often work in humanitarian organizations or NGOs such as the Red Cross in disaster areas.

To be successful in this profession, you have to have some exceptional skills apart from professional qualifications. Those skills include:

  • have social skills
  • Advanced communication techniques
  • Knowledge about collective behaviors
  • Technical knowledge of emergency intervention

What to study to work as an emergency psychologist?

As we mentioned earlier, emergency psychologists are specialists in managing trauma and disaster situations. In addition to studying psychology, there are options to specialize in the area of ??emergencies and trauma, such as studying our Master in Emergency Medicine, Emergencies and Catastrophes at the European University.

While understanding theory is important, at Universidad Europea our academic model is based on experiential learning. For students who want to build a career as an ER psychologist, having as much experience as possible is key to career success. For that reason, the master’s degree has many practical learning opportunities, including internships in primary care services and with SAMUR . You’ll also have access to some of the best facilities for learning, including a simulated hospital, labs, and more . Throughout your program, you will also work on real cases so that when you finish, you will have the necessary skills to be successful from day one.

We are aware that you may have other personal and professional commitments, which is why we offer a portfolio with many options. Our portfolio of programs in the area of ??psychology also includes:

  • Degree in Online Psychology
  • Degree in Psychology in Valencia
  • Degree in Psychology in the Canary Islands
  • Master’s Degree in General Health Psychology Blended learning Valencia
  • Master’s Degree in General Health Psychology Canary Islands