Listen, Protect, Connect--Model & Teach: Psychological First Aid (PFA)

Listen, Protect, Connect--Model & Teach: Psychological First Aid (PFA)

California's December 2017 wildfire situation reaffirms the importance of resiliency, positive coping, and problem-solving skills.  Parents and educators are encouraged to consider the Listen, Protect, Connect--Model & Teach:  Psychological First Aid (PFA) developed by UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters, Los Angeles Unified School District Trauma Services Adaptation Center, and the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement.  As an evidence-based approach to assisting children, adolescents, adults, and families, PFA may reduce initial stress and promote adaptive functions.

  • Listen to what others say and observe how they act
  • Protect by preserving structure and stability
  • Connect through frequent interaction, activities, projects
  • Model calm, constructive, and positive behavior
  • Teach resilience and positive coping skills

Schreiber, Gurwitch, and Wong (2017) advocate activities that teach individuals to apply problem-solving skills to stressors, such as wildfires.  Developing realistic and positive methods of coping reduces anxiety and strengthens resiliency.  In the same spirit, Souba (2016) postulated that resilient individuals are uniquely equipped to successfully visualize and respond to challenges because “the frame (lens) through which they ‘see’ the world is different” (Souba, 2016, p. 896).  Experience is interpreted through framing lenses comprising an individual’s beliefs, values, and world view, defined as an “understanding of how life works” (Souba, 2016, p. 896).  Since 90% of stress is what others do, effective management focuses on the 10% that an individual can control (Sotile, 2002; Vickers & Vickers, 2017).  Framing facilitates problem solving by empowering individuals to visualize solutions to challenges (Coutu, 2002; Sotile & Sotile, 2002).

I welcome thoughts on other applications for PFA and resiliency strengthening activities!


Coutu, D.  (2002, May).  How resilience works. Harvard Business Review 80(5), 46-56.

Duckworth, A. (2016). GRIT: The power of passion and perseverance. New York, NY:  Scribner.

National Association of School Psychologists. (2017). Helping children after a wildfire: Tips for parents and teachers [handout]. Bethesda, MD: Author.  

Schreiber, M., Gurwitch, R., & Wong, M. (2017). Listen, Protect, Connect--Model & Teach: Psychological First Aid (PFA) for students and teachers. U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  Retrieved from

Sotile, W. M., & Sotile, M. (2002). The resilient physician: Effective emotional management for doctors and their medical organizations.  Chicago, IL: American Medical Association.

Souba, W. W. (2016). Resilience--Back to the future. JAMA Surgery, 151(10), 896-897.

Vickers, S. M., & Vickers, A. L. (2017). Lessons learned from mentors and heroes on leadership and surgical resilience. Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery, 21(1), 1-11. 

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