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Customer Review: Psychological First Aid for Leaders

Author: By Elleen Kane, M.A., APR, Division of Communications, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 6/22/2015 3:31:00 PM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

Disaster season is upon us: flood season, hurricane season, the cusp of wildfire season, tornado season, and then there’s earthquake season which seems to be year-round. To help myself and the team through whatever this year may hold in disasters or disaster responses, I took a free psychological first aid course called, “Building Workforce Resilience through the Practice of Psychological First Aid – A Course for Supervisors and Leaders Exit Icon.” While these skills are important for everybody, they’re truly critical for leaders in any capacity. Here’s what I thought of the training:

Ease of use: Excellent. I created a profile which allowed me to leave and return easily. This was important since the training was 90 minutes long, and I didn’t have an uninterrupted 90 minutes to devote. I liked that the sessions didn’t time out when I stopped to take a phone call and that when I closed the website to leave my desk, I could log in again later and pick up exactly where I’d left. Also, the training wasn’t a series of PowerPoint slides; it was professional, high-end production training modules.

Relevance: I learned a few things I could use, how to refer an employee to an employee assistance program for example. The training also brought me back to some basics of effective leadership, reminding me that a fundamental characteristic of a leader is noticing the people around us, what they’re going through, how they’re reacting to challenging or stressful situations, and how it’s affecting the entire team’s performance.

The session points out that we have to know what people are like every day to recognize when they are at their breaking point. So the training reminded me to step out of myself on a daily basis and especially during those stressful disaster response moments and look closely at the team around me. So – bonus – the techniques taught in this course have a day-to-day use, could improve my leadership skills overall, and may help build more a cohesive team.

Engagement: The training mixed narration and reading with continual movement on the screen – new pics, video, audio, text – every second or two to stimulate the senses and prevent boredom.

The course engaged me right away and kept me engaged by challenging me throughout with quizzes that required carefully reading and actual thinking. I realized I was cheering for myself, “hurray, I got two points!” It was a simple, quick way to draw me into the topic and dare me to continue paying attention.

Just as in life, the tests didn’t come at predictable intervals, and there were no do-overs. I’m on the competitive side and getting a wrong answer galls me. Thankfully injured pride is the only negative outcome to getting a wrong answer in the training. You can go back, look at what you could have done better, and really learn.

Overall rating: I have to admit that I’m not usually a fan of online training, but this one was a great surprise. I’d give it a two-thumbs-up, 4.5 out of 5 stars; it was definitely better than other psychological first aid webinars or slide-based training I’ve taken. In my opinion, only classroom training with actual role playing beats it. Yes, I’ll recommend it to my friends, even those who aren’t in official leadership positions.

If you’ve taken it Exit Icon, let me know what you thought by commenting on this blog.

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