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Change is a constant in life. Change and growth are the basic tenets of developmental psychology, and several theorists have developed frameworks to explain the various life stages of psychosocial and cognitive development. Although it may seem obvious that a 13-year-old will deal with disasters, crises, or traumas differently than a 40-year-old, these developmental differences can be critically important to accurately assessing the impact on the survivor.

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Equally critical to the assessment of the impact of disasters, crises, or traumas is taking into account the survivors’ values and beliefs, social support systems, and the cultures in which they exist. In this Discussion, you will interview a friend or family member who has experienced a disaster, crisis, or trauma to determine his or her psychosocial development, coping style, and support system at the time of the event. Then, based on the interview, you will explain the importance of collecting developmental and ecological information from survivors when assessing the impact of disasters, crises, and traumas.

To prepare for this Discussion:


    1. Please provide a brief description of the disaster, crisis, or trauma.

    2. How old was the interviewee at the time of the event?

    3. Give a brief description of what his or her life was like at the time of the event.

    4. What was the interviewee’s primary means of coping with the traumatic event? Would he or she describe the coping style he or she used as having a problem-solving focus? An emotional-support focus? A combination of the two? Or did he or she choose to avoid dealing with the crisis?

    5. Did anyone help the interviewee deal with the event? Did the interviewee get support from family and/or friends? Church, school, and/or workplace? Did he or she seek help from a formal social service?

  • Conduct a short interview with a friend or family member who has experienced a disaster, crisis, or trauma.
  • Please be very sensitive to what your interviewee went through, and only choose someone to interview who you are confident will not be re-traumatized by the retelling of his or her story. If in doubt, consider interviewing another friend or family member.
  • Identify your friend or family member’s stage of development at the time of the disaster, crisis, or trauma. Then, consider his or her coping style in response to the disaster, crisis, or trauma. Also, think about the key individuals and resources in his or her social support ecosystem.
  • Think about the importance of gathering developmental and ecological information to understand the impact of the disaster, crisis, or trauma on the individual.

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