Description: This is an overview of the assessment and treatment of children who are exposed to disasters.
Purpose: It is intended as a guide with tools to help support, intervene, and identify children who need help overcoming traumatic events. This is a worthy objective because, as noted in the book, mental health and support services are often overlooked, delayed, and even haphazard following disasters. The authors have done a good job of meeting their goal of focusing on assessment and referral.
Audience: It is targeted at professional and volunteer disaster responders, including community members, who interact with children exposed to extreme events. The authors are psychiatrists and psychologists involved with the Disaster and Extreme Event Preparedness Center at the Miller School of Medicine in Miami.
Features: The book opens by reviewing the definitions, classification, types, and examples of various concepts, including trauma, stressors, disasters, and stress responses. A particularly interesting part details various types of natural and human disasters and some of the relevant characteristics and classic responses. The book stresses the importance of the context of an experience, as well as the proper interventions and support, and the importance of the timeliness of these interventions. It then highlights proper assessment and screening of victims, finishing with a guide to interventions and treatment, including therapies and medications. The only shortcoming is that the interventions section is comparatively short for example, the review of medications and therapies is rather cursory. However, the authors did not identify this as a primary goal, instead focusing on assessment and identification of victims. One nice touch is the more detailed table of contents, as well as objectives before each chapter with key clinical points after to help guide reading and comprehension.
Assessment: Overall, the book meets its stated objectives well. It reads easily and is appropriate for its target audience. It provides a good framework for thinking about and approaching different types of disasters and trauma, and presents an organized approach to assessing the impact on exposed children and determining the need for and proper extent of mental health services. A more extensive overview of treatment would have been nice, but the information the book provides is in line with the stated objectives.