After an earthquake devastated the small Italian town of San Guiliano di Puglia in October, Nila Kapor-Stanulovic, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, offered her assistance in counseling the residents of the town. The Italian Psychological Association helped her travel to San Guiliano di Puglia, or at least to its people, since not a single house in the town was habitable when she arrived.
Kapor-Stanulovic met with parents to advise them on how to handle family life in difficult circumstances, and with the principal of the local school, which lost three teachers and 26 students when the building collapsed. Next, she talked to the remaining teachers.
"They were horrified by the idea," she says, "of facing the pupils without knowing how to handle the reunion." Kapor-Stanulovic answered questions about how to help the students and designed a plan for the first days of school after the earthquake. Once word got around that she had expertise in disaster psychology, requests came in to meet with local psychologists, and she gave three television interviews on stress reactions and coping with trauma.
In December, she returned to Italy by invitation to supervise the long-term treatment of the victims.