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When Their World Falls Apart, 2nd Edition
Helping Families and Children Manage the Effects of Disasters
Lawrence B. Rosenfeld, Joanne S. Caye, Mooli Lahad, and Robin H. Gurwitch
ISBN: 978-0-87101-403-0. 2010. Item #4030. 507 pages.

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This title is an indispensable guide to understanding the effects of disasters for social workers and other disaster management professionals who care for survivors in these times of exceptional need. Like its predecessor, this updated edition uses a developmental framework to discuss the effects of disasters on children and adults across the entire life span, and their families and communities. Resiliency, risk, and recovery are emphasized through the discussions that guide communities in planning strategies for prevention and intervention.

The text is accompanied by a CD with scenarios dealing with hurricanes, floods, a pandemic flu, and a toxic spill that will help the student turn theory into practice. The "Tool Kit" contains a mix of surveys, participant pages for the workshops, a family readiness kit, a booklet on mental health responses to mass violence and terrorism, and a variety of checklists. "Resources" lists useful Web sites related to the topics in each chapter. The fourth section, "Hurricane Floyd," shows segments from the documentary Hard Rain, which depicts several families' reactions to a devastating hurricane.
About the Authors



Chapter 1: Introduction to Disasters

Chapter 2: Models for Understanding the Effects of Disasters


Chapter 3: Children and Disasters

Chapter 4: Family and Community Reactions to Disasters

Chapter 5: Natural Disasters

Chapter 6: Technological Disasters

Chapter 7: Complex Disasters

PART III: Disaster Intervention

Chapter 8: Preparation and Mitigation

Chapter 9: Crisis Intervention

Chapter 10: Post-disaster Intervention

PART IV: Special Topics

Chapter 11: Community Disaster Plans

Chapter 12: Disasters and the Media

Chapter 13: Vulnerable Populations

Chapter 14: Helping the Helpers

Lawrence B. Rosenfeld, PhD, is professor of communication and co-chair of the Social-Behavioral Institutional Review Board, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author or coauthor of 23 books on interpersonal, small group, and nonverbal communication and on conducting quantitative research. His most recent book is Interplay: The Process of Interpersonal Communication, a text for understanding and improving close relationships. He has written numerous articles and chapters in the areas of social work, communication, education, and psychology. He is a recipient of the National Communication Association’s Donald H. Ecroyd Award for Outstanding Teaching in Higher Education, the University of North Carolina’s Johnston Award for Teaching Excellence, and is listed as one of the most prolific currently active scholars in the field of communication. He has served as editor of the Western Journal of Communication and of Communication Education and as coeditor of the "Practice Highlights" section of Children & Schools.

Joanne S. Caye, MSW, is a clinical assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she teaches and mentors students earning MSW degrees. She has been involved with the social work field since 1970 as a direct practice social worker, supervisor, and program administrator at the local and state levels in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and North Carolina. She has trained social workers and managers who assist families who have experienced trauma and who have lived through disasters. She has written curricula focusing on family-centered social work, the effects of emotional abuse, and community practice and is a regular workshop presenter.

Mooli Lahad, PhD, is professor of psychology and dramatherapy at Tel Hai College in the Upper Galilee in Israel and was formerly at the University of Surrey Roehampton, London. He is the director of the Community Stress Prevention Center, an organization he established in 1980 together with the Israeli Ministry of Education. Lahad is the author or coauthor of 25 books and many articles on the topics of communities under stress, creative supervision, and coping with life-threatening situations. He is the recipient of the Israeli Psychology Association’s Bonner Prize for outstanding contributions to education in Israel, the Adler Institute’s Award for the Welfare of the Child Prize (Tel Aviv University), and the Israeli Lottery Prize for Innovations in Medicine for developing telepsychology services. He serves as a consultant to many ministries and to UNICEF and has conducted numerous workshops and seminars worldwide. He is a member of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Committee on Public Resiliency.

Robin H. Gurwitch, PhD, is professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and program coordinator for the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement. She has served on state and national committees and task forces focusing on trauma, disaster, terrorism, and resilience, and she has published numerous articles and chapters on these issues. With colleagues, she developed a series of psychological first aid materials (for example, Listen, Protect, and Connect) programs for the American Red Cross, and an intervention program for young children after disasters. She provides training and consultation services to agencies, schools, and national and international organizations. She is a member of the American Psychological Association’s Disaster Response Network and the National Commission on Children and Disasters, Subcommittee on Human Services Recovery, and she serves as a subject matter expert in the area of at-risk populations for the Disaster Mental Health Subcommittee of the National Bio-Defense Science Board.
This book will be greatly welcomed by social workers, teachers, medical, and health and mental health practitioners whose work is increasingly with people whose "worlds fall apart" because of natural or technological disasters. Between its pages can be found conceptual frameworks, extensive references to pertinent literature, and specific learning objectives for each chapter.

A major contribution of this book is its focus on developmental theory and insights into what is known, and not known, about children’s responses to different types of disasters. The ecological perspective as utilized in this work identifies the needs of children and adults in the context of family and community.

The discussion of resiliency explores what individual or community variables affect the ability to recover from disastrous events. Can disasters be prevented or its effects minimized? A preventive intervention strategy is outlined which presents hope in place of despair and some guides for action. Through the authors’ creative talents, readers are brought face to face with their own potential response to disaster through "Touching Reality" exercises.

Norma J. Berkowitz, MSSW
Friends of Chernobyl Centers, U.S. Inc.


In the wake of every disaster or terrorist act, there are children and families struggling to make sense of the event and clinicians struggling to make sense of the scattered literature and potential resources for supporting them. This thought provoking text, which combines the international, cross-cultural, empirical, theoretical, and interdisciplinary expertise of four distinguished authors, provides and unprecedented breadth and depth of coverage of the theory and research that must surround psychosocial intervention for children and families following disasters.

Readers who seek to be educated before disaster strikes have "struck gold" in this publication. It presents not only the content of our disaster strikes have "struck gold" in this publication. It presents not only the content of our disaster knowledge in digestible form, but also stimulates critical thinking and application of the knowledge in a classroom or professional development setting. The "Touching Reality" and history-based vignettes make this a unique and intriguing teaching tool for undergraduate students as well as for professional audiences.

Unfortunately, we cannot expect to completely shelter children and families from exposure to disaster and terrorist acts. With the help of this invaluable book, we have been given a marvelous opportunity to develop informed, thoughtful, and motivated helpers, who are available "when their world falls apart."

Conway F. Saylor, PhD, ABPP
Professor of Psychology
The Citadel


When Their World Falls Apart is an amazingly well organized, comprehensive and informative wealth of resourceful information for understanding disasters. These internationally renowned authors have put together an invaluable "must read" guide to understanding the various dynamics of manmade, natural, and technological disasters, how these traumas affect those impacted; behavioral and cultural criteria to be considered; identifying and dealing with one’s issues; and much more.

Impacts of disasters at the local community, national, and international levels are explored with a multitude of "hands on" examples. Included is an extensive review of literature, theory, and clinical experiences. These experienced authors are able to share what has and has not worked and why. An abundance of up-to-date material, including notes for the trainer, and helping the helper.

Joni Diamond, LCSW, BCC
NASW California Chapter/ARC (American Red Cross) Council