Early interventions following exposure to traumatic events: Implications for practice from recent research
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It is has been argued that early interventions for individuals, groups or others affected by traumatic events should not be routinely offered as there is the danger of causing more harm. The notion of "watchful waiting" has been espoused in clinical guidelines for the assessment and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Instead, a more proactive early intervention is suggested for potentially traumatic events that have the potential to lead to high psychic distress, PTSD, or complicated grief reactions for a significant number of those affected. This involves providing strategies tailored to the needs of these individuals and families and not providing conventional individual therapeutic interventions. Early intervention is wise as recent research has demonstrated that early misconceptions and negative appraisals about one's own reactions to a trauma can be significant in the development and maintenance of posttraumatic reactions and early intervention may help in forming adequate appraisals, thus counteracting misunderstandings and misperceptions. Adopting a "watchful waiting" approach with individuals and families has the potential to hinder and impede their longer-term coping responses. Recent advances, especially in the field of memory research, have implications for early interventions. We present recent findings, which make the case for early interventions following exposure to traumatic events.