Counseling Children and Older Adults in Haiti Earthquakes

The January 12, 2010 earthquake that hit Haiti with a magnitude of 7.0 was the greatest earthquake ever recorded in that country (Taft-Morales & Margesson, 2010). It caused severe destruction and was a devastating incidence because it largely affected highly populated areas. About 9 million people were affected (survivors) by the disaster that had hundreds of thousands of casualties (Taft-Morales and Margesson, 2010). This destruction caused multiple effects within the family and community systems that required counseling.

The level of victims or survivors reactions (dose-response effects) depend on several factors and experiences associated with the incidence and stage of development. Erikson’s proposal “psychosocial issues and age periods matrix” shows that certain issues related to stage of growth can be used to establish specialized intervention plans (Whitbourne, Sneed & Sayer, 2009). Special groups of survivors are the adolescent and the older adults (elderly) because they usually develop greater levels of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than other developmental stages (Whitbourne, Sneed & Sayer, 2009). Further studies of this phenomenon show that issues that occurred earlier in life (e.g. at childhood) can reoccur later (at adulthood) and the memories and experience of the earlier event can stimulate individuals to respond to the later one with greater maturity thus the explaining the vulnerability of children (Whitbourne, Sneed & Sayer, 2009). It is also equally important to focus on specific cultural needs of these clients’ community such as cultural understanding of suffering (Dass-Brailsford, 2008).