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Home arrow Disaster-Help arrow Guided Activity Workbooks
Updated July 2014



helping children and teenagers cope and thrive after a natural or man made disaster

This series of workbooks is designed to help children, teenagers and families overcome bad memories and fears. The workbooks are simple and straightforward. They encourage healthy expression, learning and coping. Our specialized guided activity workbooks for disaster relief were developed to support children's self-directed expression of memories, feelings, or dreams and to elicit verbalization and representation of traumatic events. These workbooks help children express their internal states. This powerfully supports therapeutic integration of disrupting or disturbing experiences and can lead to recovery from trauma or potentially traumatizing events. As a treatment method, the use of these resources has been manualized, studied and  proven to improve important aspects of behavior and mental health.

The use of psychoanalytically informed Guided Activity Workbooks shows children

that honestly facing the disaster is supported rather than avoided.


The child’s personal feeling of being in control and sense of personal history

are enhanced. The psychological benefits of promoting the child’s understanding

of shared experience can be powerful.
Guided Activity Workbooks help adult caregivers use natural tuning in and empathy

to provide psychological as well as physical nurture to children in the aftermath of

natural disasters.                                                          

 -Gilbert Kliman, MD 
   Be ready for Hurricane season         Evaluation of our Gaza Workbook           Study of Workbook Effectiveness    
Free downloads for individuals and families [Download time depends on your computer speed.]  Click on the PDF symbol to download a book. 
Guided Activity Workbooks for use after Natural Disasters

   My Personal Story About the 2012 Tornados (Elementary through High School Version)  

   My 2012 Tornados Story (Preschool Version)  

   My Story about the Hurricane (new, augmented, generic workbook for hurricane survivors)

   My Story about Hurricanes Katrina and Rita 

      Istwa Pa M Sou Tranblemanntè Ayiti a Mon Histoire Sur Le Tremblement De Terre En Haiti Bilingual

  My Own Story about the Earthquake in Haiti English

    My Sichuan Earthquake Story Mandarin          

    My Sichuan Earthquake Story English 

  My Flood Story    

  My Fire Story 

  Mi Historia De La Tormenta Stan Spanish                     

  My Story About Tropical Storm Stan English  

   My Earthquake Story (1989 Loma Prieta)

Guided Activity Workbooks for trauma from war and attack or threat of attack and during regional conflict

      My Personal Story about Living in Gaza Arabic

   My Personal Story about Living in Gaza English

   My Story about Living in Israel with Terror Attacks Hebrew           

   My Story about Living in Israel with Terror Attacks English    

   My Book about the Attack on America  

   My Book about War and Terrorism                                                                                 

   My Story about the Gulf War

 Workbook for Homeless Children and Recently Homeless Children in Transitional Housing

   My Personal Story about Being Homeless

 Guided Activity Workbook for Foster Children and Manual for Preventive Psychotherapy

        My Personal Life History Book –A Guided Activity Workbook for Foster Children

        The Personal Life History Book Method –A Manual for Preventive Psychotherapy with Foster Children 


Personal Life History Book
Helping Traumatized Homeless Children   
Haiti Workbook
Disaster and Mental Health  
Research on Guided Activity Workbook applications
Request a license for mass reproduction
Workooks available from                  

My Story About the HurricaNE

This is a deeply updated version of an earlier Guided Activity Workbook developed by our agency for helping children and teenagers after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The workbook uses very simple language to create a safe, structured way for children and teenagers to express their memories and fears. Ideas are presented as open ended questions. Children are encouraged to think about positive experiences and identify good memories too. Spaces for creating drawings about specific experiences help children learn to recognize and how to think about their own feelings and to think about how others feel. As is true of all of our guided workbooks, it is prefaced by a Guide for Parents and Teachers with advice for using the workbook with children of different ages and describes some of the many ways the illustrations in this book may help. This book is written for families whose children need a good tool to help empower children to learn, to cope, to heal from the trauma of a natural disaster and to grow. This updated version includes special focus on aftermaths such as floods and tornados and includes an updated Mental Health Checklist to help parents, teachers, and caregivers identify children who might need more help.

My Own Story about the Earthquake in Haiti - Free License Agreements for Helping Agencies to Print and Distribute this guided activity workook                                   

Our agency offers Free License Agreements to helping agencies and Disaster Relief organizations in Haiti to print and distribute an unlimited number of My Own Story about the Earthquake in Haiti workbooks. This workbook is available in Kreyòl Ayisyen & Français (Haitian Creole & French) and in English. More information about this workbook: Haiti Workbook

My Personal Story about Living in Gaza  Arabic and English editions

My Personal Story About Being HomelESS

The evidence based method underlying this new guided activity workbook was originally created by Gilbert Kliman, MD to help foster children. CPHC adapted the content for homeless and recently homeless children and families living in transitional housing. to treat children traumatized by the experience of being homeless. Introductory material in My Personal Story About Being Homeless will guide parents, therapists and teachers to help children get the maximum mental health benefits from its use. This can be done right in their shelter classrooms. The workbook can be used with children of all ages. As a treatment method, the use of this resource has been studied and proven to improve important aspects of behavior and mental health.  My Personal Story About Being Homeless is currently being used in a model program at community based Wellspring Family Services in Seattle. Learn more: Helping Traumatized Homeless Children

Tens of thousands of copies of CPHC's Guided Activity Workbook in Mandarin  were distributed to needy children and families suffering ongoing trauma from the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake. At least 592 Chinese mental health workers and volunteers  were trained to help children using this workbook. "Face to face" training continues using Skype technology. Our nonprofit agency continues to help children and families traumatized, bereaved and displaced by the earthquake.

In the Spring of 2008, our agency’s Medical Director, Gilbert Kliman, MD volunteered 10 hours of intensive follow up training for 12 mental health therapists in China, via Skype technology, in response to a request from Liu Meng (Mandarin-speaking certified mental health therapist). Liu Meng led the communications from Chinese participants during the training and translated the group’s concerns and questions into English. Dr. Kliman was assisted by Yun Shi, a friend of the Rotary Club of San Francisco Chinatown who first significantly contributed her time to help translate our new Guided Activity Workbook, My Sichuan Earthquake Story into Mandarin. Yun Shi’s translation of Dr. Kliman’s questions and detailed responses into Mandarin for the group in China was particularly valuable as she is a professional mental health therapist as well, and thus had the background for translating psychological and psychiatric concepts meaningfully.

Liu Meng recently reported important scientific information from a study of survivors to CPHC. Forty percent (40%) of almost 200 bereaved mothers living in refugee villages became pregnant after the quake and suffered miscarriages. This is medically remarkable and suggests an obstetrical effect of the psychological trauma the women experienced in response to traumatic bereavement after the earthquake. Another finding resulted from supervision of children traumatized by the earthquake and earthquake aftermath is that such children are showing deficiencies in mathematical learning. This finding is consistent in psychiatric literature with other studies of cognitive changes in traumatized children.

Traumatized children treated with Reflective Network Therapy have consistently shown marked improvement in receptivity to learning. The Guided Activity Workbook provided for use in China –as is true for all of CPHC-authored guided activity workbooks– are subtly imbued with the principles of Reflective Network Therapy and have been shown to reduce symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorders. Thus we are encouraged on behalf of the children served by the wide acceptance of My Sichuan Earthquake Story and continued interest in its applications in China with the help of volunteer mental health workers.


30 May 2008 Eighteen days after the quake, our new Guided Activity Workbook, created as psychological first aid for survivors, was written, illustrated, translated into Mandarin, culturally vetted and sent to the publisher for mass reproduction. Hundreds of volunteer hours were required to make this happen.

30 June 2008Less than a month after the quake, Mercy Corps had distributed 35,000 copies of the Mandarin translation of our new resource: My Sichuan Earthqake Story

30 July 2008 Only two and a half months after the Sichuan earthquake, Mercy Corps reported to CPHC that 592 volunteers and mental health professionals had received training in China to work with children using this new Guided Activity Workbook.

Why was CPHC’s response so effective in record time? Read about the extraordinary collaboration among The Children’s Psychological Health Center, China American Psychoanalytic Alliance and Mercy Corps, with translation help from friends and members of the Rotary Club of San Francisco Chinatown below.

Summary of Trainings completed July 30, 2008

CPHC gives psychological first aid to Traumatized Sichuan Earthquake Survivors 

My Sichuan Earthquake Story

By Gilbert Kliman, MD, Edward Oklan, MD, Harriet Wolfe, MD of the Children’s Psychological Health Center.


592 volunteer mental health workers get training to help children and families use our new Guided Activity Workbook in China.

Foreword to the Mandarin version by Zhang Kan, Dean of the Research Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Counselor of the Chinese Psychology Association.


Illustrations by Anne Kuniyuki Oklan, RN, modified by Rebecca Kliman, and culturally modified by Mercy Corps artists and suggestions from Elise Snyder, MD, China America Psychoanalytic Alliance President.

Two agencies entered into a collaboration with The Children’s Psychological Health Center to translate and distribute tens of thousands of copies of a psychoanalytically informed guided activity workbook for traumatized children who survived the May 12th earthquake and aftermath events in China. China American Psychoanalytic Alliance (www, guided by CAPA President, Elise Snyder, MD, working with our medical director, Gilbert Kliman, MD, galvanized translators and artists to provide a culturally vetted adaptation of an earlier version of  CPHC's “My Earthquake Story” which Dr. Kliman expanded and modified to fit the special needs and issues identified. Mercy Corps ( under the guidance of Griffen Samples, Senior Technical Advisor, Comfort for Kids entered into an agreement with CPHC to spearhead distribution.


By remarkable coincidence, on May 3, 2008 Gilbert Kliman MD  gave a major presentation regarding his work on a unifying theory of post-traumatic stress to the first joint meeting of The American College of Psychoanalysts and The American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Psychiatry, in Washington DC. Elise Snyder MD heard the presentation and invited Dr. Kliman to participate in CAPA activities. Nine days later when the Sichuan earthquake struck, Dr. Kliman accepted Dr. Snyder's call for help to respond to this enormous disaster. He began preparing a mental health resource for translation into Mandarin by CAPA. Speed of creation, translation and distribution was important for delivering rapid psychological first aid, while many psychological wounds could still be kept from becoming long term disorders. Dr. Kliman began a major rewrite of a Guided Activity Workbook based on his Columbia University Department of Child Psychiatry creation of a manualized workbook for traumatized children entering foster homes. The workbook needed extensive revision for the cultural, linguistic and disaster circumstances. The adaptation was made with a China-congenial emphasis on social networks to help children heal.


Dr. Kliman then suggested  three organizations --CPHC, CAPA and Mercy Corps-- collaborate to help survivors of the Sichuan earthquake with a practical form of psychological first aid. (Griffen Samples of Mercy Corps had already successfully led a response to disastrously huge storms, collaborating with Dr. Kliman and the Children's Psychological Health Center in 2005 and 2006). Mercy Corps was instrumental in obtaining a foreword for the Mandarin edition written by Zhang Kan, Dean of the Research Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Counselor of the Chinese Psychology Association. This foreword states, in part:

“The Sichuan Earthquake in China in May 12, 2008 has caused great  loss to the affilicted areas, and has brought with it tremendous trauma to the local residents physically, materially and psychologically... The experience gained from the past effort against earthquake has shown that of all the reconstruction works, psychological reconstruction is the most difficult, and in particular, psychological reconstruction among the children…. Meanwhile, we are lacking a certain coping mechanism... It is my belief that the publication and use of this book can provide a scientific and convenient tool for the Chinese psychological experts, teachers and parents to help the children rebuild their psychology. This is more than a blessing to us."  -Zhang Kan, 6/6/2008 from Beijing

An Example of the Use of a Guided Activity Workbook Resulting in Children's Mental Health Improvements 
When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans on August 29, 2005, causing extensive flooding, immense destruction, and mass human suffering, we began collaboration with Mercy Corps to produce and distribute a guided activity workbook within a week after the disaster. To evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention, the American Psychoanalytic Foundation and Mercy Corps jointly funded a study of the resource. The objective of the resource was to decrease post-traumatic symptoms in several hundred among the evacuated fifth to eighth grade children attending a displaced school, temporarily based in Houston. Fortuitously, Tulane University was also relocated to Houston and the project had the advantage of an independent psychiatrist’s involvement in setting up and studying the effectiveness of the project, including the supervision of interns to introduce and follow the children’s use of the workbook. The formerly New Orleans student population was 100 percent African-American, the majority (82 percent) from impoverished areas of New Orleans that were widely devastated by Katrina. The University of California at Los Angeles Child Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Reaction Index (PTSD-RI) was administered to the children prior to beginning work on the Hurricane Workbook and again after three months of working with the specially designed psychoanalytically informed workbooks. Mercy Corp eventually distributed more than 12,000 workbooks throughout the region.
My Personal Story About Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: A Guided Activity Workbook for Children, Families and Teachers was given to each child. Each worked on it in class for 30 minutes weekly for three months. Post-traumatic symptom level scores among 100 twice-tested adolescents declined sharply. The improvement was statistically highly significant (p=.0001). It confirmed compelling clinical observations that even classes of highly agitated and overactive inner city children almost immediately became very calm and focused when using the activity workbooks.


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