The Canterbury earthquake sequence involved traumatic events that saw individuals struggle with a variety of challenges. Adult Specialist Services Earthquake Treatment Team (ASSETT) was a small team set up by the Canterbury District Health Board following the severe earthquakes in Christchurch and surrounds in September 2010 and February 2011. The service provided CBT based treatment for adults, 18-65 years, with severe post-earthquake distress. Both group and individual CBT was offered, with approximately two-thirds of those who attended for treatment participating in a therapy group as part of their treatment. Group CBT for earthquake-related distress and post-traumatic stress disorder comprises nine three-hour group therapy sessions, with groups of six to ten group members. Two therapists co-facilitated the groups. The presentation will discuss the role of mental health services in disaster recovery. Characteristics of those attending the service will be described, along with an overview of the CBT treatment programme, including outcome data.
In the midst of earthquake destruction, positive initiatives also emerged, driven by locals, such as the Gap Filler project, and the Volunteer Armies. It seemed likely that posttraumatic growth was occurring, and might be seen in individuals who were coping well with challenges.
We examined posttraumatic growth in a resilient population after the Canterbury earthquake sequence. Participants were 101 residents of Christchurch aged 18 to 70, who were coping well, in spite of moderate to severe exposure to earthquake events. Themes relating to posttraumatic growth were identified from qualitative analysis of earthquake narratives. Positive appraisal and acting to meet one’s needs were associated with posttraumatic growth. Women and men described posttraumatic growth similarly. Implications include the importance of providing opportunities for individuals to take on a role after a crisis, allowing them to act to respond to difficulties, and to meet personal needs for relatedness, competence, and autonomy.