SPR: Skills for Psychological Recovery
By Jack Komer, 12/2021.
What is SPR?
SPR is intended to help survivors of disasters, terrorism, adversity, and displacement identify their most pressing current needs and concerns and teach and support them as they develop skills to address those needs. Each skill can be covered in one helping contact, and then reinforced in continuing contacts. Although each contact can stand alone, ideally the survivor will participate in multiple contacts and continue to learn and practice the skills with support from the SPR provider. The actions all include task assignments to practice the skills learned.
Components of SPR (NCTSN, 2012, Pgs. 1-2)
Gathering Information and Prioritizing Assistance helps to identify the survivor’s
primary concern and suggests an action plan.
Building Problem-Solving Skills teaches the survivor to break his or her problem into
manageable components, and to identify the steps to addressing the problem.
Promoting Positive Activities offers a structured, behavioral means to reduce
depression by increasing positive or meaningful activities.
Managing Reactions assists in managing distress via a number of skills such as
breathing retraining, writing about one’s experiences, and identifying and planning for
triggers and reminders.
Promoting Helpful Thinking helps to identify the common maladaptive appraisals
made after a disaster/emergency, and to rehearse more adaptive, helpful appraisals.
Rebuilding Healthy Social Connections teaches people to access and enhance social
and community supports in a practical way
Evidence in Support of SPR
Pilot/Feasibility Trials (NCTSN, 2012):
Forbes, D., Fletcher, S., Wolfgang, B., Varker, T, Creamer, M., Brymer, M., Ruzek, J., Watson, P., & Bryant,
R.A. (2010). Practitioner perceptions of Skills for Psychological Recovery: A training program for health
practitioners in the aftermath of the Victorian bushfires. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry,
Hansel, T.C., Osofsky H., Steinberg, A., Brymer, M., Landis R., Riise, K. S., Gilkey, S., Osofsky, J., & Speier,
A. (2011). Louisiana Spirit Specialized Crisis Counseling: Counselor perceptions of training and services.
Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, Vol 3(3), 276-282.
Research Outcomes (NCTSN, 2012, Pg. 3):
"Training in SPR has been extremely well-received by counselors working in many crisis
counseling programs following hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquake, tsunami, floods,
mass shootings, and the Gulf oil spill. The Louisiana Spirit (Katrina/Rita/Gustav)
Specialized Crisis Counseling Services Program reported that the skills were highly
practical and improved their ability to serve their clients, and client survey results
indicate that the SPR interventions were helpful in reducing distress and improving
Hansel, T.C., Osofsky H., Steinberg, A., Brymer, M., Landis R., Riise, K. S., Gilkey, S., Osofsky, J., & Speier, A. (2011). Louisiana Spirit Specialized Crisis Counseling: Counselor perceptions of training and services. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, Vol 3(3), 276-282.
NCTSN. (2012). SPR: Skills for Psychological Recovery [Fact sheet]. https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/interventions/spr_fact_sheet.pdf
Watson, P.J., Brymer, M. and Bonanno, G. (2011). Post-Disaster Psychological Intervention Since 9/11. American Psychologist Special Issue: The 10th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks.