Monmouth University graduate students from the Department of Professional Counseling are volunteering at local FEMA sites doing crisis intervention and psychological first aid. Jennifer Trimarchi, president of Monmouth University’s Counseling Student Association (CSA) and Ellen Brody, treasurer of CSA, are coordinating the scheduling at the FEMA locations and have been in constant touch with students at the sites.
The students volunteering are currently enrolled in practicum and internship courses. The students can use their FEMA hours toward the hourly requirement they need for class credit which allows the students to do maximum hours possible at the FEMA sites. The students receive supervision from the Practicum and Internship course faculty and the cell phone numbers for all those professors were given to all students in case they need immediate assistance on-site. In addition, Monmouth University psychological counseling professors, Dr. Gary Handler, Dr. Joanne Jodry and Dr. Alan Cavaiola, have been regularly checking in with the students on site at the FEMA locations.
To help train the students in the delivery of crisis services, Dr. Alan Cavaiola (author of Crisis Intervention Book) and Dr. Jodry organized a training session for students. In addition, faculty are holding support sessions for students to help them avoid the onset of compassion fatigue, a significant risk that first responders face when delivering crisis services. The first of these sessions was lead by Dr. George Kapalka, chair of Department of Professional Counseling.
Dr. Kapalka stated: “Monmouth University values being a good neighbor and I am proud our students work hard to help meet the needs of our community. The students are gaining very valuable skills in delivering counseling and crisis intervention services, and along the way they are having a significant, positive impact on the victims of this tragedy.