University of South Florida

College of Behavioral and Community Sciences


Social work faculty hold post-hurricane stress debriefings for DCF staff

Pam Alvarez and Chris Groeber

Pam Alvarez, DM, MSW and Chris Groeber, MSW are leading the group sessions.

Pam Alvarez, DM, MSW and Chris Groeber, MSW, instructors in the School of Social Work, have begun a series of stress debriefings for Department for Children and Families (DCF) staff regarding their own personal experiences during Hurricane Ian. Held virtually, these meetings allow participants to process the trauma caused by the storm in order to build a healthier workforce.

"Providing space to listen, process, and plan is a very important part of creating future plans of safety for all involved," Groeber said. "Creating opportunities for true self reflection gives people an opportunity to gain perspective on their own trauma and really dig in and think about their reaction to it!"

In the first session, over 60 people shared and discussed the impact of the hurricane. The group strategized ways to support others with even greater needs and were reminded why "helping the helpers" is an important component in a connected organizational culture.

Groeber noted that the issues surrounding survivors guilt commonly go unaddressed and often derail the best of intentions both in the workplace and in one's personal life. 

"Being given permission to feel a certain way about one’s own trauma helps normalize it and make it okay to show grace to others but even more importantly yourself," Groeber said.

More meetings are scheduled throughout the coming weeks to maintain those connections and address immediate needs of staff. Having established trusting relationships with DCF staff prior to these meetings, Alvarez and Groeber also plan to continue to integrate this work into the ongoing support and coaching work done with the supervisors.

"We believe that this support will help the supervisors to further support their teams and build a healthier workforce that remains mission focused and resilient," said Alvarez.

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The Mission of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS) is to advance knowledge through interdisciplinary teaching, research, and service that improves the capacity of individuals, families, and diverse communities to promote productive, satisfying, healthy, and safe lives across the lifespan. CBCS envisions the college as a globally recognized leader that creates innovative solutions to complex conditions that affect the behavior and well-being of individuals, families, and diverse communities.