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Back to Where It Happened: Self-Reported Symptom Improvement of Tsunami Survivors who Returned to the Disaster Area

  • Trond Heir (a1) and Lars Weisæth (a1)



During October and November 2005, the National Norwegian Tsunami Support Association organized a journey to the disaster area for survivors. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the Tsunami affected the participants' psychological problems.


Twenty-nine adults and 19 children made the journey. Steps were taken to enable each individual to acquire an overall understanding of the catastrophic event. Various forms of antiphobic training were provided. At the end of the stay, 28 adults replied to a questionnaire. The questions concerned: (1) motives for traveling; (2) benefits experienced; (3) psychological problems before departure; and (4) problems at the end of the stay. Parents with children were asked to assess their children's psychological problems at the same points in time.


Considerable improvements in anxiety symptoms were reported and observed in both the adults and children. No certain cases of retraumatization occurred.


The improvements can be understood in the light of psychodynamic, cognitive, and behavioral theory approaches. The duration of the improvement in symptoms remains to be documented. There appears to be grounds for encouraging traumatized patients to return to a disaster area as part of the treatment process if they so wish.


Corresponding author

Trond Heir Kirkeveien 166, Building Z 0407 Oslo Norway E-mail:


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Back to Where It Happened: Self-Reported Symptom Improvement of Tsunami Survivors who Returned to the Disaster Area

  • Trond Heir (a1) and Lars Weisæth (a1)


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