Helping Those Who Learn To Help: Addressing Stress During a Community Disaster

  • Roni Berger Adelphi University School of Social Work
  • Orly Calderon LIU Post
Keywords: Community disaster, post disaster stress, coping strategies, training social work students, traumatic stress in health providers


This article discusses lessons learned from working with social work students in the context of the encounter with Hurricane Sandy that hit the Caribbean and the East Coast of the US in late October 2012, and that can be defined as a community disaster. The literature documents the multifaceted impact of such disasters, and the special challenges faced by students in the helping professions who must cope with community disaster on both professional and personal levels.  As social work educators, the authors have found ways to help their students process their reactions to, and cope with aftermath experiences.  This article, rather than presenting an analysis of empirical data, describes strategies the authors have used to help students cope with the devastation caused by Sandy, students’ responses to these strategies and suggested next steps.