The FEMA model de-emphasizes the "mental health" feel of counseling. Counseling sessions are less formal, less structured and less clinical in their design.
This model acknowledges the importance of Critical Incident Stress Management and other techniques for reducing the likelihood of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and other stress-related illnesses. It is intended to follow immediate interventions, therefore, complementing those services, not replacing them.
The FEMA model emphasizes supportive listening, problem solving, education about "disaster stress," coping skills, and public information, as well as assessment and referrals, when appropriate.
The FEMA model uses "bachelor’s level paraprofessionals" as the primary responders, not mental health professionals. Crisis counselors are usually indigenous to the communities where the disaster occurred and need to have strong interpersonal skills in able to access community organizations and events. These Crisis Counselors may have a range of training and no particular background in mental health or human services. Therefore, they require supervision by someone with sufficient clinical experience to provide appropriate training and guidance.