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Athletic Training and a SAFER Approach to Crisis Management

Athletic Training and a SAFER Approach to Crisis Management

by Christine Shebelski, ATC2 Comments

One of Athletico’s core values is continuous improvement, which is something that is important to me as an athletic trainer who is always trying to improve upon my skillset and profession.

Recently I attended a workshop on the topic “assisting individuals in crisis” in South Carolina put on by ATs Care. If you have not heard about ATs Care, it is a peer-to-peer support system comprised of athletic trainers to help assist other athletic trainers who have experienced a critical incident. It is a committee that is sponsored by the National Athletic Training Association (NATA). There are peer-support/CISM (critical incident stress management) teams at the district and/or state levels. To be clear, crisis intervention is NOT psychotherapy. Critical incident stress management is a comprehensive, phase sensitive and multi-component approach to crisis/disaster intervention.

While I am not currently part of the ATs Care Committee, this workshop is a first step in applying. The major takeaway I would like to share from the workshop is the SAFER-revised model of individual crisis intervention. The SAFER model is a form of psychological first aid; a step-by-step process for working with individuals in crisis. The model was designed by George S. Everly, Jr., PhD, ABPP, FAPA, CCISM, and it is broken down like this:

Stabilize – introduce yourself and ask how you are able to help. Work to meet basic needs and mitigate acute stressors.

Acknowledge the crisis – listen to their “story,” including the events and reactions.

Facilitate understanding – validate the situation by reflecting their emotion. Use close ended questions and paraphrase content to let them know their symptoms and/or reaction is “normal.”

Encourage effective coping – identify personal stress management tools, provide education and encourage healthy habits.

Recovery or Referral – identify external support and coping resources.

The SAFER model can be a wonderful tool that can help us as Athletico Athletic Trainers improve upon our overall listening skills when interacting with our patients and colleagues. Caution should be used though when interacting with someone in true crisis, this model is meant to be utilized with the full support of an ATs Care team, which includes extensive training in this method. These teams also include mental healthcare professionals and direct, immediate referrals are made when indicated and necessary. Learn more by visiting the ATs Care Team page on NATA’s website.

If you’re interested in an Athletic Training career with Athletico, visit our AT Career Opportunities below.

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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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  1. Ali El-Kerdi

    I am trying to connect with your director of education for athletic training. Please have them reach out to me at 410-430-4560

  2. Athletico

    Thank you for reaching out. We have passed along the message and someone from our team will be reaching out to you.

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